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Singapore to consider appeals for early vaccination for urgent overseas travel

Singapore to consider appeals for early vaccination for urgent overseas travel

The Singapore Government will now start considering offering early vaccination to Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) who need it for urgent overseas travel.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Health (MOH), this comes on the back of appeals from members of the public who wish to receive their vaccination early. 

While the Government's focus has been to vaccinate identified priority groups on public health considerations, as more vaccine supplies arrive, Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with very exceptional circumstances can apply to receive their vaccination earlier. 

These circumstances include: 

  • Having an urgent need to travel overseas to be based overseas for work or take up or complete a formal education or vocational programme, where remote working or learning is not an option. 
  • Wishing to travel overseas to visit or care for a critically ill immediate family member, or to seek medically necessary treatment that cannot be reasonably received in Singapore.

The MOH noted that those who plan to appeal for early vaccination should cater for the time needed to complete the full course of vaccination in Singapore in their plans. 

For the current vaccines available, two doses are required three to four weeks apart, and the vaccines will be fully effective a further two weeks after the second dose. Individuals should thus aim to complete the application form around eight weeks in advance, and successful applicants will be notified via email.

While the Government will try to accommodate all appeals that meet the stated criteria, given that vaccine supplies are limited, priority will be given to those travelling to higher risk countries or regions.

Additionally, the Government is working with hospitals and clinics to provide earlier vaccination for their patients with complex chronic medical conditions who would be more vulnerable to severe complications if they were to fall ill with Covid-19. For such patients, their doctors will discuss with them whether they are eligible for vaccination, based on their individual circumstances.

The press release also revealed the current vaccination progress, plans for more vaccination centres, and introduced a financial assistance programme for those who suffer from serious side effects related to the COVID-19 vaccination. Key points summarised below: 

  • As of 15 March 2021, more than 792,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
    • More than 549,000 individuals have received at least the first dose.
    • About 243,000 have also received their second dose (i.e. the full vaccination regimen).
    • More than 175,000 seniors have received their first dose, and about 230,000 seniors have made appointments to receive their first dose in the next few weeks.
  • By mid-April, there will be a total of 40 vaccination centres island-wide. 
    • As of 16 March 2021, a total of 24 vaccination centres are in operation, on top of the 20 polyclinics and 22 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) that are also in operation.
    • Seven more vaccination centres, located at Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Jurong West, Punggol, Sengkang, Tampines and Woodlands, will progressively commence their operations from 17 March.
    • Four of the seven upcoming vaccination centres will administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine - namely Hong Kah North Community Club, Marsiling Community Club, Punggol 21 Community Club and Radin Mas Community Club.
    • As more supplies of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrive, more vaccination centres will offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Each vaccination centre will only stock and administer one type of vaccine. Individuals must select the same vaccination centre for both their first and second appointments, when booking via the national appointment system.
  • The Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme for COVID-19 vaccination (VIFAP) will provide financial assistance to Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass holders vaccinated under the national vaccination programme, in the rare event that a person suffers from serious side effects that are assessed to be related to their COVID-19 vaccination.
    • The VIFAP will be open for applications from 17 March 2021.
    • The payout received will depend on the severity of the serious side effects attributed to the COVID-19 vaccines.
    • The three tiers of payouts are: 
      • One-time pay-out of $2,000 for individuals who required inpatient hospitalisation and medical intervention, and subsequently recovers;
      • One-time pay-out of $10,000 for individuals who required admission to High Dependency or Intensive Care, and subsequently recovers; and
      • One-time pay-out of $225,000 for individuals who die or suffer permanent severe disability as a result of COVID-19 vaccination.
    • The VIFAP is not meant to reimburse medical costs. It provides an additional layer of financial support, on top of the existing government healthcare financing schemes for medical costs incurred, which include government subsidies, MediShield Life, MediSave and MediFund.
    • To apply for VIFAP, individuals will need to submit an application accompanied by medical information on the serious side effect from their treating doctor. All applications will be reviewed by an independent clinical panel.

Photo / 123RF

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