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Measures to boost immunity

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Chong Kee Hiong
MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC

Question No. 3661
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what measures will be implemented to boost immunity amongst the general population; and (b) whether there are age-group specific practices which can be included in public education information materials and broadcasts to increase awareness about strengthening personal immunity.

Written Answer

1      There is currently no effective vaccine to boost immunity against COVID-19.

2      However, keeping healthy will help ensure that our immune system is functioning properly. This means a well-balanced diet with sufficient intake of fluids, adequate physical activity, as well as having enough sleep and rest. Smokers should quit smoking as there is evidence linking tobacco smoke[1] with immune dysfunction. Similarly, alcohol consumption[2] should be avoided as it impairs the body’s ability to defend against infection.

3      For persons with chronic conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, particularly among our seniors, complying with medication and regular medical follow-up to ensure that their condition remains under control is important to keep up the body’s defences against infection. They should also go for the vaccinations recommended under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS), such as vaccinations against seasonal flu and pneumococcal diseases.

4      It is equally important to take care of one’s mental wellbeing[3] during this period. Taking up one or two hobbies such as music, reading a book or learning a new skill online, as well as using relaxation techniques, can help improve mental wellbeing.

5      The Health Promotion Board (HPB) launched the “Stay Well to Stay Strong” campaign in February to provide Singaporeans with bite-sized videos and articles on practising good personal hygiene, healthy eating, physical activity, and mental well-being. With Singaporeans staying at home during the circuit breaker period, this has proven to be a valuable resource.In a span of 3 months from February till mid-May 2020, HPB’s resources on the Stay Well to Stay Strong resource hub have seen over 360,000 page views, with a 17-fold increase in monthly viewership since inception.There are over 162,000 views of the exercise videos, a 13-fold increase in monthly viewership since the campaign started.

6      For seniors, who may use social media less often, AIC and HPB have partnered Mediacorp to roll out the “Learn Together with Me Season 2” television series on Channel 8, as well as the “Stay Well to Stay Strong” series in Malay and Tamil on Suria and Vasantham respectively.Viewership for the Channel 8 series averaged 113,000 people aged 50 and above per episode; the other two series are currently on air.

7      Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 situation, we will continue to provide Singaporeans with various health initiatives and use alternative platforms to encourage Singaporeans to remain healthy.

[1] Taghizadeh-Hesary, F, & Akbari, H. (2020). The powerful immune system against powerful COVID-19: A hypothesis. Medical hypotheses. 140, 109762. Advance online publication.

[2] Testino, G., & Pellicano R. (2020 Mar 27). Alcohol consumption in the COVID-19 era. Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica.

[3] Abudurachman, & Herawati, N. (2018). The role of psychological well-being in boosting immune response: An optimal effort for tackling infection. African journal of infectious diseases, 12(1-Suppl), 54-61.

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