Given the high global demand for COVID-19 vaccines and the time needed to scale up manufacturing and distribution, initial supplies of vaccines will be limited.
Vaccine stocks are expected to arrive in Singapore in batches over several months and vaccination will therefore have to take place in a progressive manner. Hence, there is a need to prioritise certain segments of the population, in a way that maximises the beneficial impact of vaccination at the population and system level.
Healthcare workers and those at the frontline of the national COVID-19 response will be prioritised for vaccination.
There is a duty to protect these workers who place themselves at higher risk of infection in the course of caring for our population, and to ensure the continued effective functioning of our healthcare system, and our national systems for preventing and containing epidemic spread, the update said.
Persons who are most vulnerable to severe disease and complications if they fall ill with COVID-19 will also be prioritised. They include the elderly and those with vascular medical comorbidities.
For the elderly group, people age 70 and above who are infected with COVID-19 have worse health outcomes than those aged 60 to 69. Therefore, persons aged 70 and older will be vaccinated first followed by persons aged 60 to 69.
5% of vaccine stocks set aside for specific groups of people of critical importance to the functioning of Singapore
The Expert Committee also recommends that around 5% of available vaccine stocks at any given point in time be set aside for specific groups of persons who are of critical importance to the functioning of Singapore.
They include personnel involved in ensuring that Singapore’s water and utilities, and other nationally essential services are not disrupted. This is to ensure that Singapore would be able to continue to function effectively amidst a local outbreak situation.
Safe distancing, mask wearing and good hand hygiene to continue
It will take a while for a significant proportion of the population to be vaccinated.
Until a significant proportion of the population is vaccinated, and more data is available on the vaccine’s duration of protection and its ability to generate a response in the body to prevent infection from the outset, the Expert Committee recommends that ongoing public health measures such as safe distancing, mask wearing and good hand hygiene should continue to be practised.