Exchange in the Fifth Update on Whole-of-Government Responses to COVID-19

Ms Hazel Poa (Non-Constituency Member): Thank you, Deputy Speaker. I thank the Ministers for their Statements. I am asking this question on behalf of some seniors who have conveyed to me their frustration that while they are being urged to get vaccinated, they are unable to get an appointment for a Sinovac vaccination. I think we do have a group of individuals who prefer vaccinations using the traditional approach and have reservations about newer technologies.

So, given that we are especially concerned about vaccination for our seniors, what avenues are there available for these seniors who prefer the traditional approach? Are there plans to further expand the Sinovac vaccination?

Mr Ong Ye Kung: Thank you. I think, first of all, is to try to explain to the seniors, which I have tried a lot, which is that the mRNA vaccine actually has been developed for many, many years. It is not something so novel and so new. It went through all the rigorous evaluation by different authorities and then approved and, so far, even in Singapore, a few million people have taken it, around the world even more and it is proven to be safe and effective.

Every vaccine will have side effects, including Sinovac, including mRNA. So, it is a good vaccine and, as far as possible, we want to persuade everyone, including our seniors, to take the mRNA vaccine.

But for those who are simply not comfortable or they are contra-indicated for mRNA vaccine and they want to take the Sinovac vaccine, we now have made it available under the Special Access Route. They can make an appointment. It may involve some waiting, but they will eventually get their vaccinations. I have reported just now that 72,000 people have gotten their doses. For all those who have taken the Sinovac vaccine, only 10% are Singaporean seniors above 60 years old. So, the great majority of Singaporean seniors actually still prefer the mRNA vaccine. So, make the appointment. You have got to wait a while, but you eventually will get the vaccine.

Ms Hazel Poa: Sorry, Minister, I should clarify that they actually tried to make the appointment but they are told that it is fully booked. 

Mr Ong Ye Kung: Oh, it should not be the case. But if you can give me the contact, we will be more than happy to help them facilitate and make an appointment. There are 20 over clinics that are doing that now.