Who can get Covid-19 vaccinations in Singapore? Where can my family get Covid-19 vaccinations? Are Covid-19 vaccinations for children safe? How many doses do children get vs adults? In the midst of this global pandemic, to vax or not to vax is certainly a hot topic, especially for those with children. Here’s everything you need to know about Covid-19 vaccinations for kids and adults in Singapore.
Who can get the Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore?
Since administering the first Covid-19 vaccine shots on 30 December 2020, Singapore has been rolling out its vaccination plan in phases. The Covid-19 vaccine was first offered to essential frontline workers.
Subsequently, vaccinations for seniors aged 70 years and above commenced islandwide on 27 January. On 24 March, residents aged 45 to 59 could start registering their interest in getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
From 1 June, teenagers 12 and 15 years old, and those 40 to 44, could register to take their vaccinations. The invitation was also extended to pregnant women who were previously not allowed to be vaccinated due to lack of data.
Singapore then opened up vaccinations for citizens aged 12 to 39 years from 10 June, and the rest of the resident population from 2 July.
Children from 5 to 11 years can now receive paediatric doses of the Covid-19 vaccine too.
To facilitate the vaccination of younger children, 15 designated paediatric vaccination centres islandwide have progressively begun operations from 27 December. You can pre-register your little ones online. Registration for Primary One, Two, and Three students at MOE schools and madrasahs will open on 5 January 2022. More details about Covid-19 vaccinations for kids.
As of Christmas Day 2021, 96 per cent of the eligible population (aged 12 years and above) have completed their full regime, or received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Since 14 September, those eligible for booster doses are also invited to receive their third shot. As at 25 December, 36 per cent of Singapore’s population have also received their boosters.
Why should I get the Covid-19 vaccine?
The biggest reason upfront: to reduce your risk of getting Covid-19.
Covid-19 is a contagious life-threatening disease with effects that could have potential long-term effects on both an individual’s physical and mental health. Expert opinion is that the current Covid-19 vaccines help prevent you from being infected by the virus. It also mitigates the symptoms in the event that you do get infected.
Similarly, if more people get vaccinated against the virus, this would greatly minimise the risk of transmission within the community. This would help prevent the country’s healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
You’ll also be helping to protect vulnerable groups who aren’t able to receive the vaccine. These include people with compromised immune systems, those with allergies to the vaccine components, and babies and children under five years. As such, it’s important that everyone gets their Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as possible.
Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe?
There are currently four Covid-19 vaccines available in Singapore — Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna, Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Sinopharm.
Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Sinovac vaccines have been assessed by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to have met safety and efficacy standards based on global and local data. The first two kicked off the national Covid-19 vaccine programme, with Sinovac added to the list in October.
Sinopharm, on the other hand, while allowed for use under the Special Access Route (SAR), is not part of the national vaccination programme, pending outstanding data for a complete evaluation.
According to Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Singapore’s Chief Health Scientist (who is also a member of the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination), even though the vaccines have been rapidly developed due to medical advancements and increased funding to vaccine development, the vaccines are subjected to stringent regulations by both the Health and Sciences Authority in Singapore and international committees.
Are there any potential side effects for the Covid-19 vaccinations for kids and adults?
After getting your Covid-19 vaccine, you might experience some soreness at the injection site, fatigue, fever, and headaches. These symptoms are a natural effect of your body’s immune system building protection against the Covid-19 virus. They should clear up on their own within a few days. Take paracetamol if necessary, and drink lots of fluids.
Another possible side effect of (all) vaccines is allergic reactions, which can range from mild to severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a minority of the population might experience some allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines. These reactions may include:
- Non-severe reaction: hives, swelling, and wheezing within four hours of getting the vaccine
- Severe reaction: anaphylactic shock
According to data from the US and UK since the vaccine rollout, about 11 in one million people might get severe allergic side effects. Beyond that, the rate of serious side effects is very low.
In Singapore, vaccinated individuals are monitored for half an hour at the vaccination centres. These are equipped with facilities, medications, and medical staff ready to deal with a severe allergic reaction and to minimise the risk of complications to those receiving the vaccine.
How does the Covid-19 vaccine protect me in the pandemic?
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA vaccines. This means that the vaccine sends “instructions” (in this case, mRNA) to cells to create a chain reaction that results in our bodies producing antibodies to protect us from the Covid-19 virus.
How it works: The vaccine sends instructions for cells to produce a harmless protein piece that’s also unique to the Covid-19 virus. Once the cell displays the protein piece on its surface, the body’s immune system recognises that it doesn’t belong there. This provokes an immune response that produces antibodies against the Covid-19 virus. Thus, those who have received the vaccine gain protection against the virus without having to get sick from the virus itself.
Sinovac uses a more traditional method of vaccination that introduces inactivated viruses into the body. As the virus is inactivated, it will not spread and infect you. However, the body’s immune system will still be able to recognise the virus and trigger an adaptive immune response.
As the virus spreads rapidly around the world, new strains of the virus naturally start to develop through mutation. That said, changes or mutations to the virus should not render existing vaccines completely ineffective. There is no evidence suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines lack efficacy against newer Covid-19 strains. The best way to combat this is to quickly stop the spread of the virus through vaccinations and boosters.
How many jabs do I need?
Singaporeans can choose the type of vaccine they receive (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Sinovac). In order to complete the initial full regimen, you will need to receive two doses of the mRNA vaccines, and three doses for Sinovac. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses are 21 days apart, while the Moderna vaccine doses are 28 days apart. This is to ensure that you get full protection from the vaccine that will last as long as possible.
However, in light of emerging variants, boosters are needed to maintain a high level of protection. On 14 December, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that for those who have taken two doses of the mRNA vaccines, or three doses of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, their full vaccination status will lapse unless a booster shot is taken.
Currently, only adults 18 years and above require a booster jab to be considered fully vaccinated.
Where can I get my Covid-19 vaccinations and how much does it cost?
Individuals can receive Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at selected private clinics, polyclinics, as well as any of 37 vaccination centres available islandwide. There are also 15 paediatric Covid-19 vaccination centres specially for children 5 to 11 years.
Under the national vaccine programme, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Sinovac vaccines and boosters are completely free for all Singaporean citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents — including long-term work pass holders and foreign domestic workers.
As of 1 June 2021, seniors aged 60 and above do not need to make a prior appointment. They can simply walk into any Covid-19 vaccination centre to get their jab on the spot.
Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are also available at selected private clinics. An admin fee of $10 to $25 is chargeable, depending on the clinic.
Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe in a pandemic
One of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones against Covid-19 is to arm yourself with the facts. Get your information only from reliable sources, and avoid the spread of fake news if you’re not sure.
For instance, you can’t get Covid-19 through your vaccination. The vaccines themselves do not contain the live virus. However, being vaccinated does not rule out the possibility of being infected by the virus. It does, however, reduce the likelihood of that happening, as well as the severity of the symptoms and illness.
In addition, the MOH has opened the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme, which will provide financial assistance in the case that any individual suffers from a serious side effect related to their Covid-19 vaccine. This is to give those deciding whether to get vaccinated or not more support and greater peace of mind.
The bottom line? The aim of Singapore’s rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations for kids and adults is to protect the community from the virus. This is in order to safeguard both our lives and our livelihoods.
Besides the Covid-19 vaccine, getting vaccinated against influenza and other preventable diseases (such as cervical cancer) is important as well. Do remember to keep up with your regular vaccination schedule.
This article first appeared on Homage, an award-winning personal care solution that provides on-demand holistic home and community-based caregiving and medical services to seniors and adults, allowing them to age and recover with grace, control, and dignity.