Seniors taking wait-and-see approach to calls for additional Covid-19 vaccine dose

Seniors taking wait-and-see approach to calls for additional Covid-19 vaccine dose

Seniors taking wait-and-see approach to calls for additional Covid-19 vaccine dose


SINGAPORE – At the age of 87, Mr Chou Keng Lin believes he has led a long and healthy life.


The retiree, who spent most of his working life as a cabby and odd-job labourer, said with his children all grown up, he has nothing left to worry about.


Asked if he was worried about the new Covid-19 wave here, he said he would take some precautions, but was still undecided about whether to get an additional dose of the vaccine.


He said: “I’ll wear a mask if I go to crowded places like hawker centres, but I’m not really scared of the new Covid-19 wave. I’ve already taken four doses of the vaccine, and I’m healthy.”


Mr Chou is one of eight seniors who spoke to The Straits Times following Health Minister Ong Ye Kung’s call for those at greatest risk of severe illness, including those aged 60 and above, to receive another dose of the Covid-19 vaccine if they have not done so in the last 12 months.


Mr Ong said on May 18 that Singapore is seeing a new Covid-19 wave, with rising cases of infection in the last two weeks.


The wave is expected to peak in the next two to four weeks, with public hospitals now reducing non-urgent elective surgery cases in anticipation of an increase in cases.


The estimated number of Covid-19 cases in the week of May 5 to 11 rose to 25,900 cases, compared with 13,700 cases in the previous week. The average daily Covid-19 hospitalisations rose to about 250, from 181 the week before.


Mr Ong said if the number of cases doubles once, Singapore will have 500 patients in its healthcare system, which is manageable. But if it doubles a second time, there will be 1,000 patients, which will be a considerable burden on the hospital system.


Some of the other seniors who spoke to ST said they, too, were taking a wait-and-see approach following news of the new wave.


Retiree Peter Kang, 88, said he has also taken four doses of the vaccine and would consider an extra dose, but he has not made up his mind.


He said: “I try to keep away from crowded places, and I already seldom go to such places anyway. I’m still considered quite healthy.”


He said his main concern about taking another dose is the risk of side effects.


Eighty per cent of the local population have completed their initial or additional dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but have not received a dose within the last year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.


The updated Covid-19 vaccines continue to be free for all eligible residents, and those enrolled in Healthier SG, a national preventive health initiative, can receive their vaccinations at about 250 participating Healthier SG clinics islandwide.


The network of such clinics is being expanded, on top of additional mobile vaccination teams being deployed to selected heartland locations in the coming weeks, in an effort to reach more seniors.


From May 21 to June 29, the five joint testing and vaccination centres will also be extending their operating hours on Saturdays and the eve of public holidays from 9am to 7pm, instead of the usual 9am to 1pm.


MOH will be sending out SMS messages to individuals who have not taken any Covid-19 vaccination in the past 12 months to remind them to keep their vaccination up to date.


They can visit to locate the nearest vaccination site and the types of vaccines offered at each site.


Other seniors told ST that they would not get an additional dose unless it was made mandatory.


Mr Goh Ah Siong, 75, a retiree, said: “We old people are scared to take the vaccine because we are scared of jabs... I’ll get another dose only if the Government says I must.”


Madam June Chong, 72, a cleaning supervisor, said she has already taken four doses of the vaccine and was not keen on taking another as her last jab had hurt her arm.


She added that she has always been taking precautions and continued wearing a mask in crowded places even after it was no longer mandatory.


She said: “This sort of thing (Covid-19 wave), it comes and goes... Covid-19 is just like a cold and cough. We treat it as normal now and have already adapted to living with it.”


Correspondent, D. S. C. R. (2024, May 19). Seniors taking wait-and-see approach to calls for additional Covid-19 vaccine dose. The Straits Times.

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