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Status of COVID-19 Vaccination Among Singaporeans and Reasons for Not Taking Additional Booster Shots

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Neil Parekh Nimil Rajnikant
Nominated MP
Question No. 5859
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the status of COVID-19 related vaccination amongst the population especially as to how many seniors have gone beyond their fourth vaccination to date; (b) what are the reasons cited by Singaporeans for not having taken their additional booster shots; and (c) what steps will be taken to educate citizens on the importance of the additional boosters in view of current global concerns about the virus and the recent spike of COVID-19 cases locally.
1     As of June 2024, only about 15% of seniors aged 60 and above, have received more than four doses of COVID-19 vaccinations. 
2     Many Singaporeans are reluctant to take further doses of COVID-19 vaccine.  Much of it is because of vaccine fatigue and wanting to put the crisis behind us.  This is in turn due to the perceptions that COVID-19 is no longer a severe disease, and there are side effects to taking the vaccines. 
3     Seniors and vulnerable individuals are recommended to stay updated with their vaccination, which means that they ought to take the vaccine once a year to keep themselves protected.  COVID-19 did not become mild all of a sudden, it is mild because we have taken the vaccines earlier, which protected us against severe illness when infected.  
4     Side effects are inevitable for any medications, but local and international evidence continue to show that severe side effects from COVID-19 vaccination are infrequent, and even then most recovered by themselves.  Many people, due to various reasons including years of lifestyle habits, have developed chronic illnesses that progressed into heart attacks and strokes.  Others, due to ageing, also developed various medical conditions.  There is a tendency to conflate these diseases with the taking of COVID-19 vaccines.  It is much more important to lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent these diseases. 
5     We are undertaking various measures, such as fully funding COVID-19 vaccinations, sending out SMS reminders, and deploying mobile vaccination teams, to encourage vaccination especially amongst seniors.  However, it is difficult to go against the current public perception and bring about high vaccine uptake.  Unlike many Western countries, we do not have a strong vaccination culture among adults.  
6     We will try to change this over time.  After all, flu and pneumococcal vaccination rates have gone up since the roll out of Healthier SG.  We will encourage more Healthier SG clinics to come on board to provide COVID-19 vaccination.  By leveraging the relationship between family physicians and residents, we can hopefully keep up societal resilience against COVID-19, which will be here to stay.  

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