Hundreds of seniors in Singapore receive Covid-19 jab as nationwide vaccination exercise kicks off

Seniors taking their Covid-19 jab at a vaccination centre at Marine Parade Community Club on February 22, 2021. ― TODAY pic
Seniors taking their Covid-19 jab at a vaccination centre at Marine Parade Community Club on February 22, 2021. ― TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Feb 23 — Hundreds of seniors turned up at community clubs (CCs) yesterday for the first day of a nationwide voluntary vaccination exercise for those aged 70 and above.

The doors to the vaccination centres opened at 9am.

For people who have made their appointments, they were led to a registration booth where they were asked about their medical history to determine if they were eligible for the vaccination.

Eligible seniors were then ushered to the dozen-odd counters set up inside the sports halls of the CCs to get their inoculation from nurses or trained medics. At least one doctor was present at each vaccination centre to oversee the process and attend to any medical questions or emergencies.

After their vaccination, the seniors were taken to an observation area where they had to be monitored for half an hour for any side effects before they could leave.

Among the first residents to receive the vaccination at Marine Parade CC yesterday morning was Lim Eng Siang, who said that the entire process was smooth and took him about an hour.

“It’s not painful,” he said about the shot, adding that he was not bothered about reports about a small proportion of people developing severe side effects from the vaccine.

Lim, who turns 90 in May, quipped: “In the old days after the war, the needles were so big and you get knocked out and (your arm) swells for one whole week.” 

Over the weekend, residents aged 70 and above began receiving letters inviting them to sign up for the voluntary vaccination.

Vaccination centres at three CCs began operation yesterday, at Bukit Timah, Marine Parade and Taman Jurong.

They joined 11 other vaccination centres that started earlier, including the ones at Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar where a pilot vaccination exercise for seniors began late last month.

By mid-March, all seniors aged 70 and older will be able to receive the Covid-19 vaccine when a vaccination centre opens in each housing town, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said last Friday.

At Marine Parade CC, one of the seniors spotted yesterday morning getting his vaccination was Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 79.

Other people in the age group had turned up to ask questions about the registration process and whether they could take the vaccination if they had pre-existing medical conditions.

A Marine Parade resident who wanted to be known as just Ong was there without an appointment because she wanted to first find out if she was eligible for the vaccination.”

I’m a little scared to take the jab because of the side effects, since I haven’t met anyone who has taken the vaccination. So I’m here to take a look at what the process is like,” she said.

MoH said on February 1 that four people had suffered a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis since receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Three of them recovered after a day in hospital while the fourth was observed for a few hours.In the United States, health officials said allergic reactions were occurring at a rate of 11.1 per 1 million vaccinations, compared with flu vaccines where such reactions occurred at a rate of 1.3 per 1 million shots.

Speaking to reporters at the CC, Dr Tan See Leng, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, acknowledged these concerns but said that an expert committee on Covid-19 vaccinations has conducted extensive research and concluded that the benefits of the vaccination far outweigh the risks of side effects developing.”

And there are a lot of consequences for someone who has caught and recovered from Covid-19 because you do not know what are the long-term side effects (of Covid-19),” Dr Tan said. 

“Now that the vaccine is available, and all the studies have shown that it is beneficial, I think we should just get ahead with it and encourage more people to come and get vaccinated,” he added. 

The Member of Parliament for Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency used to be the group chief executive of healthcare firm Parkway Pantai.

At Bukit Timah CC, two residents — Sisters Margaret Goh, 73, and Mary Yong, 74, from the nearby Canossian Convent — said that they were a little concerned about getting adverse side effects from the vaccine.

However, when the healthcare workers talked them through the process, it made them feel assured.”

I’ve encountered people asking me, quite emphatically, not to go get vaccinated,” Sister Goh said.

“I just kind of reasoned out with them. We trust that the medical system here in Singapore is safe.” ― TODAY

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