Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.
Free Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore: What, when and how to get it
2020 has been full of curveballs, but it looks like we’re ending this unprecedented year with good news. Earlier this week (14 December 2020) in his Covid-19 address, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore will be progressing to Phase 3 after Christmas, on 28 December 2020. Some of the measures eased in Phase 3 include the increase of group gatherings to up to eight pax for personal get-togethers and up to 250 pax for other congregations (such as for worship, weddings, etc).
PM Lee also provided an update on the Covid-19 vaccine that the world has been working on. If you’re wondering how and when it’ll be your turn, here’s everything we know about the Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore.
Types of Covid-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Sinovac)
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are three types of Covid-19 vaccines that certain national regulatory authorities have authorised for use. In Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. There will be more vaccines reaching Singapore as the Government has signed advance purchase agreements with other pharmacies, including Moderna and Sinovac, as well. You can read more about the vaccines that are still in development here.
The various vaccines in development may work differently to protect against the Covid-19 virus. Here are some examples shared by WHO:
Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened so it doesn’t cause disease, but still generates an immune response.
Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.
Viral vector vaccines, which use a virus that has been genetically engineered so that it can’t cause disease, but produces coronavirus proteins to safely generate an immune response.
RNA and DNA vaccines, a cutting-edge approach that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself safely prompts an immune response.
Covid-19 vaccine deployment in Singapore
The first batch of vaccines are scheduled to reach our shores by the end of the year, and the plan is for everyone in Singapore to be vaccinated by Q3 2021. The Covid-19 vaccine will also be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents. Here’s what we know so far from the same press conference:
1. Covid-19 vaccine will be free and on a voluntary basis
As mentioned, the Covid-19 vaccine will be free for all Singaporeans. There has been no official announcement on its price (for those who have to pay for it), but according to a CNBC report, it costs US$20 per dose.
Although everyone is strongly advised to get vaccinated, the Covid-19 vaccination programme will be voluntary (and not mandatory). Since little is known about the disease, naturally, there are some risks involved, especially when it comes to long-term side effects.
2. Those with medical conditions may receive different vaccines
For those who have existing medical conditions, the Government may match you to specific vaccines that are safe for you. The Government will also ramp up public awareness and education to help residents make informed choices with regards to getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
3. Priority will be given to healthcare workers, front liners and (suitable) vulnerable patients
As expected, those on the frontlines of the battle against Covid-19 will receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine first. Following that, vulnerable patients who do not have medical contraindications will receive immunisation.
4. Migrant workers will also be vaccinated
Migrant workers make up the majority of Covid-19 cases in Singapore, so they too will have access to the Covid-19 vaccine. There are about 100,000 of them who are not immune, and who will thus be prioritised. The Government will work with medical centres and healthcare providers serving dormitories to help ensure the vaccine is accessible.
5. The Pfizer Covid-19 may be unsuitable for those with severe allergic and/or anaphylactic reactions
In Britain, the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine caused severe anaphylactic reactions in two people. As such, the HSA and expert committee has recommended that those with a history of severe allergic reactions or anaphylactic reactions avoid this vaccine. For everyone else receiving it, it will be important to observe their reaction to it. If any signs of allergy is observed, the second dose will not be administered.
Conclusion: Will the Covid-19 vaccine save us all?
WHO has warned that the Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be 100% effective, and that the impact of the vaccines will depend on how effective they are, how soon they can be approved, manufactured and delivered, and how many people actually get vaccinated.
This, however, is true for all vaccines and new diseases. Right now, the global research and development for Covid-19 vaccines are very encouraging. We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – in fact, Singapore will be one of the first in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine!
Of course, we should not let our guards down, and continue to mask up and maintain good hygiene and social distancing as we still don’t know whether the vaccine will curb transmission. But even if the Covid-19 vaccine does not ‘cure’ the world, it is still a huge breakthrough to be proud of and thankful for. Here’s to (hopefully) regaining a slice of normalcy in 2021 – cheers!