Vaccines cannot currently be given to Singaporeans who wish to travel overseas, due to limited supplies: Janil

SINGAPORE – Vaccinations cannot currently be provided to Singaporeans who wish to travel overseas for personal reasons, due to limited supplies and the need to prioritise their use, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 1).

In response to questions from 12 MPs, Dr Janil said: “We completely understand the anxiety of some Singaporeans who wish to travel overseas for personal reasons or would like to get vaccinated early.”

As vaccine supplies are currently limited, healthcare and frontline workers, as well as seniors, have to be prioritised, he said.

“We are therefore unable to provide vaccines at this time to these Singaporeans outside of these groups and seek their understanding.”

He added: “When there is greater certainty in our vaccine supply, we will consider allowing these individuals to receive early vaccination. We will announce further details at that time.”

More details on the vaccination roll-out to the rest of the population will also be announced at a later date.

Dr Janil said that “good progress” has been made in Singapore’s vaccination programme, with more than 155,000 people receiving their first dose of the vaccine as of Sunday (Jan 31).

Healthcare and frontline workers prioritised include swabbers hired by the Health Promotion Board, staff working at government quarantine facilities, community care and stay-home notice facilities, he said.

Given limited supplies, healthcare workers and Covid-19 frontline personnel, whose work requires them to be in constant contact with people who may be infected, have been prioritised, he said.

Essential workers such as those in security services, aviation and maritime workers have also been vaccinated.

He asked for Singaporeans’ support and patience as vaccinations for the whole population is rolled out in tandem with the shipments of vaccines.

Advanced purchase agreements with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac have been signed, and discussions are ongoing with a few other pharmaceutical companies, he noted.

But specific quantity of the vaccines ordered or the delivery schedules cannot be disclosed due to commercial sensitivities and confidentiality undertakings in such agreements, he said.

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There would be delays to shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines due to an upgrading of Pfizer’s manufacturing plant, he said.

But supplies will continue to be monitored closely to meet Singapore’s target of vaccinating all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the end of this year (2021).

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