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COVID-19 Vaccines

Since 2020, the government has rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination programme and is continually expanding its efforts to protect Singaporeans against COVID-19. Vaccination is free to all Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore.

As advised by the Ministry of Health in Singapore, there is a risk of serious, life-threatening disease and death from COVID-19 infections, especially in the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can help to prevent the disease, lower the risk of transmission, and keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

At Gleneagles Hospital, we are monitoring the developments of the coronavirus vaccines closely, and are on standby to support the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts in keeping our people safe and protected during this global pandemic.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccines.

Listen to Dr Leong Hoe Nam, infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, in this video as he explains more about the coronavirus vaccine.

The contents on this page were based on existing data and information shared by health authorities and IHH Healthcare Singapore experts as of June 2021. For the latest news and updates on COVID-19 and vaccines in Singapore, please visit www.gov.sg.

Frequently asked questions

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

After getting a vaccination, your immune system is trained to recognise the virus and produce antibodies which attack the virus and remain in our bodies. In doing so, the immune system will be able to recognise the virus in the event of an infection and fight off the virus before it causes any symptoms.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, while the Sinovac vaccine uses an inactivated vaccine technology.

  • mRNA vaccines contain material from the COVID-19 virus that instructs our cells to produce a protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognise that the protein should not be present and work to produce antibodies to attack the virus.
  • Inactivated vaccine technology uses weakened or inactive viral particles to stimulate our body to produce antibodies that will help neutralise the COVID-19 virus.

Some coronavirus vaccines require multiple doses, with the doses given weeks or months apart. This allows us to produce longer-lasting antibodies and develop memory cells, so that our bodies and immune systems will be able to quickly fight the virus if we are exposed to it again.

Read more about how vaccines work.

References: gov.sg, World Health Organisation

Where can I get the Sinovac vaccine?

The Sinovac-CoronaVac (Sinovac) COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Singapore by the Ministry of Health under the Special Access Route (SAR) scheme. Under the SAR, COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization for its Emergency Use List can be imported and supplied by private healthcare providers as unregistered vaccines, to be administered to individuals in Singapore. This is part of the government of Singapore’s overall COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Why is getting a COVID-19 vaccine important?

The Singapore government has advised that COVID-19 vaccination, together with safe distancing measures, contact tracing and proactive testing, will help to protect us and our loved ones against COVID-19. Vaccination will not only reduce the number of people susceptible to the coronavirus, but also reduce the chances of transmission in the community.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The Ministry of Health in Singapore has stated that only vaccines that comply with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines and adhere to strict standards of safety, quality and efficacy have been identified and will be used in Singapore.

Learn more about how the vaccinations are accessed and monitored on gov.sg.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine effective? Why are vaccinated individuals still contracting COVID-19?

Based on current data, the mRNA vaccines are found to be effective. Pfizer BioNTech’s vaccine has a reported 95% effectiveness while Moderna’s has charted a 94% efficacy.

The Sinovac vaccine efficacy, which uses inactivated vaccine technology, has been found to be at 50.4%.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, advises: “No vaccine is 100% effective, but they do help to reduce the severity of the illness – from a severe one to a moderate or mild one, or one with no symptoms at all. In this way, it can convert a deadly viral infection into a harmless common cold.”

Learn more about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

According to Dr Adrian Chan, respiratory physician at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are similar to those of the influenza vaccine.

These can range from mild symptoms such as pain at the injection site, fatigue and tiredness, muscle aches and chills, to more severe (but less common) symptoms such as fever and vomiting. There have been case reports of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), but based on current data so far, the overall incidence of such reactions is low.

Who should take the COVID-19 vaccine?

While COVID-19 vaccination in Singapore is voluntary, the government is encouraging all individuals who are medically eligible to be vaccinated when it is available. When more people in a community are vaccinated, the harder it is for a disease to spread.

Are vaccines effective against new strains of the virus?

Yes, but the efficacy is not the same.

Dr Leong stresses on the importance of getting vaccinated: “If you didn’t get the vaccine [and become infected with COVID-19 virus] you may end up more severely ill, and more likely to die.”

Learn more on the virulence of the new COVID-19 variants and the effectiveness of vaccines.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine similar to that of a flu vaccine?

Both vaccines target different viruses. Therefore, it is recommended that while we protect ourselves against COVID-19, it is also prudent to protect ourselves against influenza by vaccinating ourselves with the influenza vaccine.

Can I stop wearing masks after vaccination?

COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective. Time is also needed for more people to receive the vaccination, and some individuals may be unable to take the coronavirus vaccines or do not wish to do so. For these reasons, it is recommended to continue current safety practices such as regular hand washing and sanitisation, wearing your masks, and keeping to social distancing measures.