Parliament: Over 155,000 have received first Covid-19 vaccine dose; no increased risk of death for seniors

SINGAPORE – More than 155,000 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as at Sunday (Jan 31), said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary on Monday.

In response to questions from several MPs, he added that there is currently no evidence that the Pfizer vaccine contributes to an increased risk of death among the elderly.

“Thus, we continue to offer Covid-19 vaccination for seniors,” Dr Janil told the House. “It is important to vaccinate and protect seniors, as Covid-19 infection in the elderly has been observed to result in severe, or fatal illness.”

A total of 12 MPs filed questions on the roll-out of Singapore’s nationwide vaccination programme. Some, including Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) and Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC), asked for updates on its progress. Others, such as Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Mr Dennis Tan (Hougang), asked about the side effects of the vaccine, especially among seniors.

More vaccination centres will be set up in places with a large population and/or along public transport routes, Dr Janil said. Each of these centres is planned to have an estimated capacity of 2,000 vaccinations daily, on average.

Polyclinics and certain public health preparedness clinics will also serve as vaccination sites, with all polyclinics in Singapore to start offering Covid-19 vaccinations from Monday.

There are also mobile vaccination teams for seniors with mobility issues, he added.

On the topic of vaccine safety for seniors, Dr Janil said that the Health Ministry, Health Sciences Authority and Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination have been monitoring international reports on the issue.

The Norwegian health authorities and the World Health Organisation’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety have found no evidence that the Pfizer vaccine contributes to an increased risk of death in the elderly, he noted.

“Nevertheless, the ministry has reiterated to vaccination providers that doctors should review the medical history of seniors carefully to confirm that they are indeed suitable for vaccination, and that they should be monitored closely in the immediate period after a vaccination.”

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