SINGAPORE – When he heard that more vaccination boxes would be made available, Wren Chee, 21, immediately moved the vaccination date forward about two weeks.
Chi, who is awaiting enrollment at Nanyang Technological University, received his first dose on Saturday (June 26). It was originally scheduled for July 12.
The national vaccination program was accelerated from Saturday and will see up to 80,000 doses of vaccine given daily, up from about 47,000 doses the day before.
One health care provider, who runs three vaccination centers, said he’s seen the number of appointments double.
The Ministry of Health said Thursday (24 June) that another 500,000 new boxes will be added in the next few days for people to schedule the first dose between now and the middle of next month.
A multi-ministerial task force on Covid-19 said Thursday that an increase in vaccinations was made possible due to the delivery of vaccine supplies.
This allowed Singapore to set a new target of fully vaccinating two-thirds of the population by National Day, August 9.
I will interact with more people, as I sign up for driving lessons in July and start studying in August. So, I felt (previous vaccination dates) would work better for me,” said Che, who was relieved when he got the slot on Saturday.
Healthcare providers who run vaccination centers told the Straits Times that they are well prepared to handle the increased load, such as to take advantage of the extra workforce.
There are now 40 centres, 22 public health readiness clinics and 20 polyclinics under Singapore’s National Immunization Program.
After the Ministry of Health invited those with later vaccination dates to submit their appointments, the number of appointments at all three medical vaccination centers doubled, said Chan Wei-ling, CEO of Specialized Centers at Thomson Medical.
Thomson Medical operates three immunization centers in Putong Pasir, Bishan and Singa-Kaju Community Clubs.
Each center used to run about 1,000 appointments a day, Chan said, but that has doubled now and centers are running at full capacity.
“We have deployed eight to 10 additional staff to each center to manage the increase in hiring,” she said. “They will complete a variety of roles ranging from examiners to counselors and nurses.”
A spokesperson for Fullerton Health, which operates 10 vaccination centers including in Jalan Besar, Geylang Serai and Buona Vista CCs, said it is looking to increase the number of vaccination slots by up to 50 percent per day from Saturday.
Raffles Medical Group, which operates 15 vaccination centers, including Tanjung Bajar and Marine Parade CCs, said each center can support up to 2,000 vaccines per day and has a network of doctors, nurses and health care staff to draw from.
When ST visited Potong Pasir CC on Saturday, there was a steady stream of people arriving for vaccination despite the rain.
Jackson Seah, 31, who was there for his first dose, said he made his appointment as soon as he could two weeks ago.
“The economy has taken a huge hit since the pandemic. So, with more people getting vaccinated, we can achieve herd immunity and things may slowly return to normal,” said Siah, who runs a hotel with his family.
“It makes more sense to take advantage of what the government is doing for us, rather than do nothing and complain that the situation is not improving,” said Udinatasha Mahmood, 22, who was in Putong Pasir CC for her first dose.
Yam Kum Yin, 53, who works as a care worker, accompanied his 88-year-old mother to CC for her first dose.
Yam, who was fully vaccinated, said: “We wanted to vaccinate her very early but she couldn’t go on her own due to her mobility issues. So, we had to wait until I was available to accompany her.”
When The Straits Times visited Taman Jurong CC, there were a few people in the morning but the crowd increased by noon.
Infectious disease experts have urged those who can get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
Dr. Asok Korab, who heads the Department of Infectious Diseases Physicians at the Academy of Medicine, said he was pleased with the acceleration of the vaccination program, which he felt should have been done earlier.
“We may not have a perfect world, but if we have more vaccinations, we have a better chance of living with the virus,” he said.
Another expert, Dr Leong Ho Nam, said: “The more people vaccinated, the less hospital care is needed, which means the virus will be like the common cold.”