SINGAPORE (Reuters) – As Singapore prepares to launch COVID-19 vaccinations, its striking success in controlling the virus raises questions about whether it should be hit.
In a city-state where authority is generally high, some Singaporeans fear that the potential side effects – albeit minimal – are not worth the risk when daily cases are almost nil and deaths are among the lowest in the world.
“Singapore is doing pretty well,” said Aishwarya Kris, who is over 40 and doesn’t want a hit.
“I doubt the vaccine will help at all.”
A survey conducted by the local newspaper The Straits Times in early December found that 48% of respondents said they would receive a vaccine when it became available and 34% would wait six to 12 months.
But the government wants to open more of the economy with the vaccine in a country dependent on travel and trade and preparing to host the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum next year.
“Singapore is a victim of its own success,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease expert at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in the city.
To show that the vaccine is safe, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 68, said he and his colleagues would be among the first beneficiaries of the shootings. They will be free, voluntary and first received by health workers and the elderly.
The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has arrived this week, and Singapore expects to have enough vaccines for all 5.7 million people by the third quarter of 2021.
The first vaccines will be given to priority groups, such as health workers, in the next month or two, but it will be some time before they are offered to the wider population, said Lawrence Wong, a minister who is the co-leader of the health group. working for viruses in Singapore.
“The launch to the people of Singapore will also take place over several months, depending on factors such as the supply and delivery schedules of vaccines,” he said.
“THING RESPONSIBLE TO DO”
Many Singaporeans have said they are ready to take pictures – not just to avoid infection, but in the hope that they will be able to travel again. For others, it is a civic duty.
“I’m the one in the family who goes to work every day, so it’s a responsible thing,” said Jeff Tan, a 39-year-old photographer.
Singapore acted quickly after the first cases of the virus were reported and, although it was blinded by tens of thousands of cases in the homes of migrant workers, it brought back the infections.
Singaporeans generally accept vaccines, with nearly 90 percent absorption of major childhood illnesses, Hsu Li Yang said at Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at Singapore National University.
But there is concern about a new vaccine that uses new technology and has had rapid development and approval. Accepting the vaccine usually takes time, he said.
Even three nurses told Reuters on condition of anonymity that they would prefer not to take the vaccine.
The Singapore Drug Regulatory Authority said it has granted approval after data submitted by Pfizer-BioNTech has been evaluated to demonstrate that the vaccine meets the required safety, efficacy and quality standards and that the benefits outweigh the known risks.
The Pfizer vaccine has been associated with several cases of severe allergic reactions since it was launched in the United Kingdom and the United States. But it did not show serious long-term side effects in clinical trials.
John Han, sales manager, said he wants to wait 80% of the population to get the vaccine without side effects.
“If there is a given choice, I may not take it. I don’t mind putting on a mask, being safe, avoiding crowded places, “said Han, 40.
Reporting by Chen Lin and Aradhana Aravindan to Singapore; Edited by Michael Perry