Vaccination drive key to safe opening up, ST Editorial News & Top Stories

It is heartening that seniors are responding to the Government’s decision to allow those aged 60 and above to walk in to any vaccination centre and get their Covid-19 jabs on the spot. Earlier, appointments were necessary for good logistical reasons. Now, as the national inoculation drive picks up greater momentum, the relaxation of rules for seniors is a gesture to those among them who missed out on the chance to get vaccinated ahead of most of the rest of the population. The Government announced this week that Singapore had received further confirmation of faster vaccine deliveries over the next two months.

The latest supply schedule would allow the country to boost its vaccination programme further, and offer the vaccines to everyone sooner than expected. Hence the decision for those 60 and above to get vaccinated without having to make an appointment. The next group for whom vaccinations have now started are students. This is important as there had been recent instances of children getting infected, including in schools and tuition centres and through contact at home. After students, vaccinations will be set for the remaining group of adults aged 39 and younger.

This has been a calibrated programme which matches inoculation schedules with vaccine deliveries amid a still evolving pandemic situation. It is reassuring that many parents are willing to sign up their children to receive the vaccines. Understandably, there are concerns about the side effects of the jab, but the vaccines being offered to the young come with global clearance, much as Singapore’s overall inoculation programme is guided by international medical consensus. All in all, the authorities are trying to create a culture in which both young and old will inoculate themselves and protect others in the process.

Singaporeans should remember the sobering fact that supplies of vaccines might not always be readily available, and that there is a constant concern about a sudden flare-up in infections. Should that occur, it would be a major setback not only to the global process of protection through timely delivery of vaccines, but also to the pace of the programme here, which is proceeding well.

The more Singaporeans who come on board immediately, the greater the chances that the country can achieve a degree of herd immunity to the global disease. Singaporeans – old, young and those in between – could not do better than to embrace the vaccination schedules. The timely public response to vaccinations is an important part of the overall plan to open up domestically, and to the world, in a safe, steady and sustainable way. Singapore does not want, nor can it afford, economically and socially, to have prolonged closures and to shut out the world. Vaccination – and the wider acceptance of it here – is key and essential to that opening up.

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