One in five foreign workers in dorms fully vaccinated against Covid-19: MOM

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Foreign workers at the observation area after their Covid-19 vaccinations at the Seletar Vaccination Centre on May 2, 2021.
Foreign workers at the observation area after their Covid-19 vaccinations at the Seletar Vaccination Centre on May 2, 2021.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – About one-fifth of foreign workers living in dormitories have been fully vaccinated. As at May 31, these 55,000 workers have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday (June 8).

Another 67,000 have been vaccinated with one dose, with their second dose scheduled to be administered six to eight weeks from the first dose, added the MOM spokesman in response to queries from The Straits Times.

“When more foreign workers in dormitories are vaccinated and the Covid-19 situation in Singapore further improves, we will be able to progressively ease restrictions for the migrant workers,” added the spokesman.

Only 42,000 of these workers had taken both doses of the vaccine by May 2.

Then Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng, who is now the Manpower Minister, had provided the earlier figure when he visited the Seletar Vaccination Centre that day.

The MOM spokesman said on Tuesday that having the second-dose appointment six to eight weeks from the first was aligned with the recommendation of the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination and the Ministry of Health.

Last month, the authorities had announced that those who register for Covid-19 vaccination from May 19 would have their second dose scheduled six to eight weeks after the first. The interval between the doses was three to four weeks previously.

The move is meant to maximise vaccine coverage more quickly without significantly affecting the overall immune response.

About 30 per cent of Singapore’s general population have received both doses of the vaccine so far. Vaccination registration for those aged 39 and below is expected to start from the middle of this month.

Singapore’s worst outbreak of the coronavirus was in the dorms last year, with hundreds of cases daily at its peak in April. This has since been controlled, with very low or zero daily cases recorded in the dorms since October last year.

The vaccinations so far are for workers who have not been infected. More than 54,500 dorm residents have been infected so far.

Vaccination for these non-infected workers, together with rostered routine testing, are critical measures to strengthen the resilience of the dormitories against a Covid-19 outbreak, said the MOM spokesman.

Antigen rapid test pilots are also conducted to complement the routine testing. “Such frequent testing will enable us to more promptly identify infection and ringfence any potential spread quickly,” she said.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, believes that the proportion of foreign workers in dorms vaccinated is similar to that of the general population, when similar age groups are compared.

“Perhaps they should be vaccinated at a much faster rate, if possible. They are in communal living, making it more of a risk,” he said.

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