5% of vaccine stocks to be set aside for workers in critical areas

About 5 per cent of available vaccine stocks at any point in time should be set aside for people working in areas critical to Singapore's functioning, said a top-level committee on vaccines yesterday.

Examples include those involved in ensuring the country's water and utilities and other "nationally essential services" are not disrupted.

This was among the key recommendations made by the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination, which was tasked by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in October to devise a vaccine strategy for Singapore.

MOH yesterday said the Government has accepted the committee's recommendations in full, adding that Singapore's vaccination exercise will begin on Wednesday for workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

The committee said those involved in critical work should be protected from Covid-19 for "greater societal benefits", although identifying these groups was beyond the remit of the committee and will be left to the Government.

Other groups being prioritised for vaccination are for reasons of public health, and they include the elderly - especially those aged 70 and above who are at greater risk of worse health outcomes if they contract the virus - as well as healthcare workers and those working on the front lines of the national Covid-19 response.

In recommending such workers to be prioritised, the committee said there is a duty to protect those who place themselves at higher risk of infection while caring for the population.

Other recommendations by the committee include vaccinating everyone in Singapore who is medically eligible as more vaccines become available, and continuing to practise safe management measures until more people are vaccinated and more data on the vaccines' ability to prevent infections become available.

In its report to the Singapore Government, the expert committee said that while public health measures have been shown to be effective in containing outbreaks, the "fundamental challenge" is that the vast majority of people in Singapore and the world do not have any immunity to the novel virus.

Key recommendations by Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination

Here are the key recommendations submitted to the Government by the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination:

  • That the groups prioritised for vaccination should be people at high risk of being infected, such as healthcare and front-line workers; and people most vulnerable to severe disease and complications if they fall ill with Covid-19. These include the elderly and people with multiple vascular illnesses (related to blood vessels).
  • That everyone living in Singapore, including citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who are medically eligible should be vaccinated as vaccines become more widely available.
  • That around 5 per cent of available vaccine stocks should be set aside at any point in time for groups of people who are critically important to the functioning of Singapore, such as those who ensure supplies of water and utilities are not disrupted.
  • That ongoing measures such as safe distancing, mask wearing and good hand hygiene should still be practised until more people are vaccinated and more data on the vaccines' ability to prevent infections become available.