Singapore is currently well on track to hitting her 80% vaccination target by early September with 82% of the country have received their first shot as of 17 August 2021. With more than 80% of the population expected to be fully vaccinated, Singapore has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
Through the national vaccination programme, Singaporeans can be vaccinated for free with either Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna. To maximise vaccination coverage of the population, Ministry of Health (MOH) has also approved other vaccines through the Special Access Route (SAR). The SAR consist of other approved vaccines are under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency use Listing (EUL). This has expanded the approved vaccines from in Singapore from 2 to 6.
With higher vaccination rate, Singapore is better positioned to transit into COVID-19 resilient endemic state. Fully vaccinated individuals with approved WHO EUL vaccines can benefit from the vaccinated differentiated measures. This includes being able to dine out, attend social events in larger groups, and return from travels via the Vaccinated Travel Lane without being quarantined in Singapore.
|Approved under national vaccination programme||Cost||Covered under Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP)?|
|Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty||Yes||Free. Fully covered by government||Yes|
|Moderna||Yes||Free. Fully covered by government||Yes|
|Sinovac-CoronaVac||[Updated 23 Oct 2021] Yes. Interim authorisation under PSAR||Free for those eligible under the national vaccination programme.||Yes, under the interim authorisation under the national vaccination programme.|
|Sinopharm||No. Allowed in Singapore under SAR.||Pending delivery, depends on provider.||No|
|Johnson&Johnson||No. Allowed in Singapore under SAR.||Not available in Singapore yet.||No|
|Astra-Zeneca||No. Allowed in Singapore under SAR.||Not available in Singapore yet.||No|
National Vaccination Programme Approved Vaccines
Under the current national vaccination programme, Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are the 2 fully approved vaccines. These vaccines are free for all Singapore residents including permanent residents and long-term pass holders. Recently, short term pass holders also qualify for the national vaccination programme. This includes individuals with short-term work pass, special pass and visitors who have been in Singapore for more than 60 continuous days.
The first vaccine to be approved by WHO, Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty has one of the highest efficacy rates among the approved vaccines at 95%. Pioneered by two giant pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNTech SE, the vaccine uses mRNA technology that has proven to be highly effective. According to their recent study, the vaccine efficacy remains above 91% after six months from the second dose.
Both shots of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty is free as it is covered by the national vaccination programme.
Another mRNA vaccine, Moderna also has a high efficacy rate of 94%. A biotechnology firm, Moderna specialises in the mRNA research field. Based on Moderna recent study, the efficacy of the vaccine remains high at 93%, six months after receiving the second dose.
The Moderna vaccine is completely free. Out of the 37 vaccination centres in Singapore, 11 of them are Moderna vaccination centres.
Approved for use in Singapore since 02 June 2021 under the Special Access Route, the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccination has been reviewed and granted interim authorisations under the Pandemic Special Access Route and included in the national vaccination programme as of 23 October 2021. This is would benefit more people who are unable to take the mRNA vaccines due to medical reasons.
Under the national vaccination programme, Sinovac will be offered as a three-dose primary vaccination series. The second dose should be taken 28 days after the first dose, while the third dose should be taken 90 days after the second dose.
Those who have taken 2 doses of Sinovac but are able to receive mRNA vaccines are strongly encouraged to take one of the mRNA vaccines as their 3rd dose for their primary vaccine series.
Unless there is a medical reason to do so, those who have received 2 doses of mRNA vaccines without any adverse effects are recommended to take an mRNA vaccine for their booster dose.
More information on the recommended use for Sinovac under the national vaccination programme can be found here.
Special Access Route (SAR) Approved Vaccines
Due to health and various concerns, there are individuals that are unable to take the mRNA vaccines. Presently, the Health Science Authority (HSA) is working to evaluate suitable non-mRNA vaccines for the national vaccination programme. Currently, there are 4 vaccines – Astra-Zeneca, Johnson&Johnson, Sinopharm and Sinovac-CoronaVac which have been approved in the EUL by WHO. As these vaccines are not under the national vaccination programme, they will be administered by private healthcare providers.
With the vaccination-differentiated safe management measures in place, individuals vaccinated by WHO EUL vaccines can also be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose.
The price for each vaccination depends on the number of dosages required for it to be effective. Aside, since the vaccine is prescribed by a private healthcare provider, there will also be administrative costs.
One of the earliest approved vaccines for SAR, Sinovac-CoronaVac is developed by China’s biopharmaceutical company Sinovac. The vaccine is administered in two doses with a 2-to-4-week interval in between. Upon complete vaccination, the efficacy rate is about 51% based on WHO study.
Since 02 June 2021, interested persons can go to any of the approved private health clinics to get their Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccination. While the vaccine is supplied at no cost to the healthcare providers, the providers are allowed to charge for the cost of administering the vaccine. The administering price for a single dose varies between each clinic. The cheapest cost for a single dose can be found at $10. On average price ranges between $20 to $25.
For the price of two doses, we can expect to pay about $40 to $50 for a full vaccination.
Developed by the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products, Sinopharm is the most recent vaccine to be approved under the SAR. The administration process is similar to the current vaccination programme whereby the vaccines will be issued in two doses with a 3-to-4-week interval in between. The efficacy rate of the vaccine is at 75% after the completion of vaccine doses.
As of 30 July 2021, there are a total of 11 private healthcare providers anticipating to import and administer Sinopharm vaccine. The list includes Raffles Medical, Parkway Shenton and Healthway Medical. The cost of the vaccines and administration costs have yet to be released. Regardless, interested participants can register their interest early at the respective healthcare providers.
#3 Johnson&Johnson (Jassen Vaccine)
Developed by the pharmaceutical conglomerate Johnson&Johnson, Jassen Vaccine is the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine approved by WHO. The vaccine has an efficacy rate of 66% after 28 days from the administration.
While this vaccine is not available in Singapore, those who have been vaccinated under this vaccine still qualify for vaccinated differentiated measures.
#4 Astra-Zeneca Vaccine
Jointly developed by Oxford University, the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is a non-mRNA vaccine. The vaccine has an efficacy rate of 82% after the second dose. Mostly distributed to less developed countries, it is one of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines in the world. However, in a recently published peer-reviewed health paper, the vaccine has the potential to cause a rare blood clot syndrome that has a relatively high mortality rate.
Presently, no private healthcare providers in Singapore have signed up to import it. However, the company was in talks with HSA for importation in March 2021.
Get Vaccinated If You Are Able To
For those of us that are hesitant about being vaccinated, the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP) provides financial coverage in the rare event that an individual is affected by a serious side effect from the administration of vaccines. Occurrences of such cases are extremely low, with 0.12% of adverse event and 0.005% occurrence for a serious adverse event. The programme provides a one-time payout for three levels of coverage ranging from $2,000 to $225,000, depending on the severity of the side effects.
VIFAP only provides coverage for the approved vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna) administered by the national vaccination programme. This means approved SAR vaccines such as Sinopharm, are not covered by VIFAP.
Presently, the national vaccination programme no longer requires booking and eligible individuals can walk into the nearest vaccination centre to get vaccinated. Those that are unable to travel to the vaccination centres can book a free home vaccination service on the MOH portal.
This article was originally published on 24 August 2021 and updated with new information. Additional reporting by Angela Koo
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