Government urges seniors to get vaccinated ahead of further reopening
Lawrence Wong urges seniors to get jabbed, citing recent Covid-19 clusters in Bukit Merah View involving elderly
He was relieved to finally get his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Sunday, but convincing his father and grandparents to get jabbed is a major hurdle Mr Bryan Sng still has to cross.
The 24-year-old undergraduate told The New Paper his 53-year-old father refuses to get vaccinated despite encouragement from the rest of the family to do so.
"After listening to my dad's concerns and fears about 'possible long-term side effects', my grandparents also decided not to get jabbed," Mr Sng said.
While his father fears possible long-term side effects on himself, he is also concerned what the vaccine would do to the deteriorating health of Mr Sng's grandparents, who are both 75.
"I have tried to reason with my dad, but he can be quite stubborn. I just hope he eventually sees that the vaccine is meant to protect us and not to harm," said Mr Sng.
At a press conference yesterday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic here, said about 75 per cent of eligible seniors aged 60 and above have received at least one dose or have booked appointments to get vaccinated, but it is "not enough".
"It is really important for our seniors to get themselves vaccinated... We hope more of them would come forward," said Mr Ong.
Giving a more detailed breakdown, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said nearly 80 per cent of those in their 60s have been at least partially vaccinated, but the rate for those aged 70 and above is still less than 70 per cent.
Around three million people in Singapore, or about 53 per cent of the population, have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and about two million of them have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.
With the delivery of vaccine supplies being brought forward, Singapore will accelerate its national vaccination programme from Saturday and administer up to 80,000 doses daily, up from the current 47,000 doses.
The new target is to have at least two-thirds of our population fully vaccinated with two doses by National Day, said Mr Wong, who also co-chairs the task force.
He urged all seniors to get vaccinated and highlighted the simplified process of being able to get jabbed without having to book a slot online.
He noted that many of the cases in recent clusters in Bukit Merah View involved elderly people and that such outbreaks can easily happen in other parts of Singapore.
He made the call to younger Singaporeans to persuade their elderly parents who have not been vaccinated to do so soon.
A business analyst, who wanted to be known only as Mr D. Wong, 24, told TNP his grandmother, 91, had been apprehensive about getting jabbed after hearing rumours about apparent side effects.
"But once we explained it to her and convinced her, she agreed to get vaccinated.
"This was especially after it was announced she could just walk into any vaccination centre to get jabbed," said Mr D. Wong, who lives with his grandmother, brother and parents.
"Even though she rarely leaves the house, all of us still have to work and go out.
"We are concerned about bringing the virus back to her," he added.
His grandmother is currently undergoing check-ups to evaluate her vaccination eligibility as she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
Psychologist Evonne Lek said some seniors may not understand the importance of getting vaccinated, while others may be reluctant to as they have minimal interactions with people, leading them to think they are unlikely to get infected.
She said: "Some families talk about seeing grandchildren as a motivation for seniors to get vaccinated, which seems to be very effective.
"If family members express their suggestion of vaccination from a place of concern and love, this can be effective with persuading seniors to get vaccinated.
"More benefits of vaccination like travel or visiting public places will also encourage them."
Professor Dale Fisher, an infectious diseases expert from the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said the current vaccination take-up rate for seniors is not high enough.
"As we transition towards Covid-19 being endemic, they will almost certainly become infected with Covid-19 just as people are regularly infected by colds and flu.
"In the absence of vaccination, they are placing themselves at high risk of severe disease or death," said Prof Fisher.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: HEDY YANG