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27 Dec 2020

27th Dec 2020

1.The government has accepted in full the recommendations of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination on the overall COVID-19 vaccination strategy for Singapore, and will begin vaccinating healthcare workers progressively from 30 December 2020.

2. The Expert Committee was convened by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in October 2020 to make recommendations to the government on Singapore’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy, including ensuring the safe and effective use of COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore’s population groups. It submitted its full set of overall framework recommendations and its detailed recommendations specific to the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccines to the government on 24 December 2020.

3. As announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on 14 December 2020, the government has made provision for all Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore to be able to get vaccinated by end-2021, if there are no unforeseen disruptions to vaccine shipments. To ensure the accessibility of the vaccine and enable us to achieve a higher rate of vaccination for the population, this vaccination will be free.1

4. Only vaccines that meet strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness will be used for our population. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had earlier received authorisation by the Health Sciences Authority under the Pandemic Special Access Route, and the Expert Committee had also reviewed and endorsed its use in Singapore in individuals aged 16 years and above.

5. Singapore received the first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech on 21 December 2020, and subsequent COVID-19 vaccine stocks are expected to arrive in Singapore in batches over several months. Vaccination will therefore take place in a progressive manner, with priority given to the following groups, as recommended by the Expert Committee:

a. Persons at high risk of being infected by COVID-19, including healthcare workers and workers at the frontline of our national COVID-19 response. We agree with the Expert Committee that there is a duty to protect these workers who place themselves at higher risk of infection in the course of serving our population, so as to ensure the continued effective functioning of our healthcare system, and our national systems for preventing and containing disease spread.

b. Persons who are most vulnerable to severe disease and complications if they fall ill with COVID-19, including the elderly and persons with medical comorbidities. We will start with vaccinating those 70 years old and above as they have more medical co-morbidities, and tend to have worse health outcomes than those aged 60 to 69 years old if infected with COVID-19. Protecting such persons minimises COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity, and ensures that our healthcare system will continue to have the capacity to care for the overall health of all Singaporeans.

6. We will begin the vaccination exercise with healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on 30 December 2020, and subsequently roll out to more healthcare institutions in the subsequent weeks. Public healthcare institutions – including acute hospitals, community hospitals and polyclinics – as well as private healthcare providers, will progressively arrange for their staff to be vaccinated within their respective premises.

7. We aim to begin vaccinating the elderly, starting with those aged 70 years and above, from February 2021. Thereafter we will vaccinate other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible for vaccination. More details will be shared in due course.

8. Comprehensive vaccination coverage in the population will ensure that our population is protected from COVID-19. This will also indirectly protect those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons. In the longer term, this will enable us to re-open further both as a society and economy, and expedite our recovery from the pandemic. While COVID-19 vaccination will be voluntary, we strongly encourage everyone who is medically eligible for vaccination to get vaccinated when the vaccine is offered. While the current number of cases in the community remains low, the risk for further importation of COVID-19 and community spread will increase as we move into Phase Three and given the global COVID-19 situation. This is especially important in the face of reports surfacing globally about more transmissible strains.

9. Vaccination is not a silver bullet that can end the pandemic immediately, but it is a key enabler to getting us back to a safer state of affairs. It will complement other existing key enablers – safe management measures, testing and contact tracing – which will continue to be necessary in helping us to mitigate any spread and keep community transmission low. We seek the cooperation of all Singaporeans to continue to remain vigilant and disciplined in our fight against COVID-19, by observing safe distancing and safe management measures, and wearing a mask when out of the home. If we all work together, we can look forward to a safer and healthier 2021.

10. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce would like to put on record our thanks to the Chairman, Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, and members of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, who have submitted a comprehensive set of recommendations. As information on more vaccines becomes available, we look forward to further recommendations by the Expert Committee on subsequent population groups to be vaccinated.

[1] For Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore, which includes long-term work-permit holders.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH
27 DECEMBER 2020