Why S’poreans Ought to Get A COVID-19 Vaccination

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Minister of Commerce and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced last week that 40 vaccination centers will be set up in Singapore by the end of March this year, with the aim of having a community vaccination center in every HDB property.

Each center can give around 2,000 vaccinations a day. This is in addition to the vaccinations in all 20 polyclinics and selected clinics in preparation for public health.

With vaccine supplies arriving in Singapore in batches over several months as manufacturers ramp up production, vaccination in Singapore has started with groups at higher risk and therefore most in need of COVID-19 vaccination.

This includes health care workers and frontline COVID-19 workers, as well as vulnerable groups at higher risk of developing serious illnesses from COVID-19 infection, such as: B. the elderly.

As of February 1, more than 155,000 people in Singapore had received the first dose of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine since the vaccination campaign began on December 30 last year.

How does the vaccination process work?

Photo credit: Ministry of Communication and Information

  • Step 1: Book your appointment

Currently, appointment slots are only open to healthcare, frontline workers, and seniors. The vaccination will be gradually offered to the rest of the population in phase 3.

However, you can start pre-registering your interest here and you will be notified by SMS when you can book your appointment.

An appointment is required given the cold chain requirements at the vaccination sites and the multidose vials of the vaccine. It will also ensure operational efficiency and minimize individual waiting times.

Bring your vaccination card and NRIC to the vaccination site. You will need to answer a few questions about your medical history before going to the waiting area.

At the vaccination station, a doctor will administer the vaccine. An alcohol swab will be rubbed onto your arm first and you will be injected onto the muscle of your upper arm.

  • Step 3: 30 minutes observation period

After vaccination, you will be directed to a surveillance area where you will have to wait 30 minutes to see if there is a negative reaction.

Some arm pain is to be expected, but if you develop a rash, headache, or feel dizzy, you will be taken to a care unit for a doctor to treat you.

  • Step 4: do your second push Three weeks later

At the last counter you will be asked more questions about how you are feeling. If everything is fine, you will be given a second appointment, which will take place about three weeks later. It takes two shocks for the vaccine to work its full effect and for protection to last for as long as possible.

The vaccination is unlikely to leave any scars as it is an intramuscular injection so the inflammation occurs in the muscle.

Can we trust a vaccine that’s being developed so quickly?

Pfizer Covid vaccineImage credit: AFP

The only vaccine approved in Singapore used to be just the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Today (February 3), the HSA also approved the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore.

Several steps have been taken to ensure that it is safe to use. It has undergone a multi-stage “screening” process and has passed all safety reviews and late-stage clinical trials.

However, one question that has preoccupied the Singaporeans is: should you trust a vaccine that has been developed so quickly?

There are a number of reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed at a record pace.

One of them is funding. More funds were poured into vaccine development during the pandemic, accelerating the pace of research.

For example, Time Magazine reported in December that the United States alone has poured $ 12.4 billion into vaccine development and manufacture through its Operation Warp Speed ​​program.

Another reason is that two leading vaccine candidates from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both used the new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Only sections of the genetic material of the coronavirus – not the entire virus – are injected into the human body in order to stimulate an immune response.

Traditional vaccines, on the other hand, use a live or weakened virus that is injected into the body to teach it to recognize the intruder.

There is a lot to develop with traditional vaccines. You need a large factory to make the protein or virus, and they take a long time to grow.

The nice thing about mRNA is that you don’t need that. When you inject nano-encapsulated mRNA into a person, it gets into the cells, and then the body is your factory. The body takes care of everything else from there.

– Robert Langer, co-founder and professor of Moderna at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Third, regulators like the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) now also allow pharmaceutical companies to submit real-time data on an ongoing basis rather than at the end of each phase of the study.

Such ongoing filings allow regulators to review the data previously available in real time at the same time instead of waiting for all the data to be collected before reviewing it.

This can cut in half the time it would normally take to get a new vaccine approved, while ensuring that proper safety precautions are in place.

How safe and effective is the vaccine?

In November, the final results of the late-stage clinical trials published by the companies showed the vaccine was 95 percent effective against Covid-19.

As with all established vaccines and drugs, there is a small risk of very rare but serious adverse events that can occur after vaccination. Most of the side effects go away within three days.

Side effects of the Covid-19 vaccinationHow to deal with potential side effects / Photo credit: Ministry of Health

Of the hundreds and thousands of people who have been vaccinated in Singapore to date, only four have experienced severe allergic reactions.

Senior Health Minister Janil Puthucheary said the four who suffered from anaphylaxis are between 20 and 30 years old and have since recovered from the episode.

They developed several symptoms such as rash, shortness of breath, lip swelling, tightness in the throat, and dizziness.

Three of them had a history of allergies, including allergic rhinitis and allergies to foods like shellfish. However, none had a history of anaphylaxis as it would have prevented them from receiving the vaccine.

“With all vaccinated people in Singapore under close surveillance, symptoms in these four people were identified and treated immediately,” said Dr. Puthucheary.

The incidence rate of anaphylaxis here is now about 2.6 per 100,000 doses administered, compared to about 2.7 per 100,000 previously announced doses.

To be on the safe side, people with a history of severe allergic reactions should not take the Covid-19 vaccine yet.

Other groups, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and people under the age of 16, should also refrain from receiving the images, as such volunteers were not involved in large-scale clinical studies.

This means that there is not yet enough data to assess the safety of a Covid-19 vaccine in these groups of people.

Why you shouldn’t adopt a wait and see attitude

Despite some reported side effects, the benefits of vaccination against Covid-19 and its complications far outweigh the risk of potential adverse events known to be associated with vaccination.

Although vaccinations are not compulsory, all Singaporeans are encouraged to participate in the bumps.

Health Minister Gan Kim YongPhoto credit: Ministry of Communication and Information

In addition, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced in parliament the launch of a new vaccination injury financial assistance program to support those experiencing serious side effects related to the Covid-19 vaccines administered here.

This will help keep those who receive the vaccines at ease, although few are expected to need them.

While our community cases are currently low, Singaporeans should take the opportunity to get vaccinated.

If Singapore is ever hit by a second wave, it will be very difficult to vaccinate many people during the lockdown and it will take some time – about five weeks or more – to achieve adequate immunity.

Also, be aware that when the time for vaccination comes and you want to hold back, the supplies of the vaccine are not reserved for you.

Instead, the vaccines go to the next employee. This is because Singapore plans to complete COVID-19 vaccinations by the third quarter of 2021.

That said, if you are medically eligible, you should get vaccinated when it is made available to you. Remember, the vaccine won’t be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents until the end of 2021.

Featured Image Source: Lee Hsien Loong via Twitter

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