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02 Aug 2021

2nd Aug 2021

NOTICE PAPER NO. 571, 575 and 583
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 2 AUGUST 2021


Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, MP for Aljunied GRC 

Question No. 1514

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether the Ministry has studied the reasons why about 30% of seniors aged 70 and above remain unvaccinated against COVID-19; (b) whether the vaccine hesitancy rate among seniors in this age group is higher than that for the general population; and (c) what has been done to counter misinformation circulating by private messaging about the dangers of mRNA vaccines and assure seniors of these vaccines’ safety and efficacy.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, MP for Aljunied GRC 

Question No. 960


To ask the Minister for Health how individuals who have allergic reactions to their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and are prevented from getting their second dose will be able to eventually attain “fully vaccinated” status.
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, MP for Aljunied GRC

Question No. 1464

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the progress of regulatory approval of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine; (b) when does Singapore expect to receive its first shipments of this vaccine for which advance purchase orders have already been placed; and (c) whether there plans to expedite the acquisition and approval of this vaccine in Singapore.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Yip Hon Weng, MP for Yio Chu Kang SMC

QUESTION NO. 1486
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the estimated time that a decision will be made on the Sinovac vaccine; and (b) what alternative vaccines are available, besides Sinovac, that utilise virus particles that have been killed to stimulate our bodies to produce an immune response.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms He Ting Ru, MP for Sengkang GRC

QUESTION NO. 1469

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether short-term visit pass (STVP) holders are eligible for any vaccination schemes in Singapore; (b) if yes, when was this available to such individuals and how many have been vaccinated; and (c) if not, whether the Multi-Ministry Task Force will allow STVP holders who live in close contact with long-term residents to be eligible for the vaccination schemes.

Answer

       Mr Speaker, may I please address Oral Questions No.4 to 5? My answers will also cover Written Question No.23 from today’s Order Paper and oral questions filed by Mr Yip Hon Weng and Mr Gerald Giam for future sittings.

Vaccinations of Seniors 
2     The national vaccination programme has been progressing well. As of 31 July 2021, 61% of our population have completed the full vaccination regimen. We are also making steady progress with our seniors. 79% of those aged 70 and above have been vaccinated with at least one dose. More seniors are coming forward to be vaccinated. Each day about 1,000 seniors sign up for their first dose. 

3     We have to continue encouraging our seniors to get vaccinated because they are the most vulnerable to serious illness. More than 96,000 or 21% of seniors aged 70 and above have not booked a vaccination appointment. This is 6% points more than the general population. We will continue to reach out to as many seniors as possible and encourage them to get vaccinated. 

4     Staff and volunteers from People’s Association and the Silver Generation Office have intensified their outreach efforts, through house visits and engagement dialogues. They are trained and equipped with an information kit to correct misinformation about mRNA vaccines and allay the fears of seniors. MOH has also called on all primary care providers to persuade seniors who are their regular patients to go for their COVID-19 vaccination.

5     Our mobile vaccination teams have started to provide bed-bound and less mobile seniors with vaccinations in their homes or in the heartlands. This service has started in a few towns with a higher proportion of Seniors, and complements the main vaccination efforts at the vaccination centres, all of which are wheelchair accessible.

Alternatives to COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines

6     Individuals who have received one dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine but are unable to receive the second dose due to allergic reactions have been invited to take the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine. MOH has established a dedicated public health programme for them to be vaccinated at a clinic in public hospitals for closer monitoring, considering their previous allergic reaction. These individuals who receive one dose of the mRNA vaccine and then complete the vaccination process with Sinovac-CoronaVac will be considered as fully vaccinated. 

7     This group of individuals who are allergic to the mRNA vaccines may also choose to wait for the Novavax vaccine that MOH has procured and expects to be delivered by the end of the year. MOH and HSA are working closely with Novavax to facilitate the regulatory submission for their protein subunit vaccine. The review timeline will depend on the availability and submission of data by the company to HSA. While we recognise the need to facilitate timely access to the vaccine, there should be no compromise on the scientific rigour of the assessment of their quality, safety, and efficacy. 

8     As for the Sinovac vaccine, on 5 July 2021 the company submitted to HSA the critical data requested by the agency for PSAR approval. HSA is conducting a careful and thorough review of the data and aims to complete its evaluation before the end of August. 

Vaccination of STVP Holders
9     The national vaccination programme will cover all who make Singapore their home or who are here for an extended period of time. We are reviewing how short-term pass holders, such as those who are more vulnerable and who have been in Singapore on an extended basis due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, may receive vaccinations. We will announce more details later.