Longer waiting times for bivalent jab as more people head to vaccination centres
People are waiting longer - in some cases, up to more than an hour - for the new bivalent vaccine.
This comes amid a spike in the number of Covid-19 infections and as people make plans for their year-end getaways.
When The Straits Times on Monday visited four of the nine joint testing and vaccination centres (JTVCs) that offered the new jabs, the waiting times ranged from half an hour to two hours.
Vaccination centre staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said the number of people getting the vaccine have gone up significantly since the launch of the new jab.
At one of the centres, staff said nearly 500 people were given the vaccine by noon. This compares with the more than 100 shots given a day before the new vaccine was available. Mask-wearing was mandatory at all the centres.
Project officer Toh Teck Wang, 62, waited 40 minutes at the Commonwealth JTVC to get vaccinated, and said he did not expect to wait that long, but added that the staff were efficient.
As he plans to visit friends in Taiwan in November and New Zealand in December, he got his fourth shot for the added protection.
“I am not comfortable that there are so many cases but, at the same time, there are not a lot of severe cases,” he said. “It is still relatively safe to go around.”
Mr Calvin Goh, 58, who went to the Ang Mo Kio JTVC as he lives nearby, is worried that Covid-19 restrictions will return if the number of cases continues to rise.
“Our customers are just starting to come back. If we close down again, it will affect business badly,” said Mr Goh, who is in business development.
Approved by the Health Sciences Authority in September, the Moderna bivalent vaccine is made to protect people against the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant - the reason why Mr Goh took the new jab.
The Ministry of Health said the current wave of Covid-19 infections is expected to peak at an average of 15,000 daily cases by about mid-November.
At the Jurong East JTVC, retiree Abdul Kadir, 60, said he waited to take the Moderna bivalent shot because the health minister encouraged the public to do so.
“My first three were Pfizer shots so I felt more confident with the encouragement,” he said, adding that he would have taken another Pfizer shot otherwise.
Mr Yong, who gave only his surname and works in the construction sector, said that thanks to the vaccine, his symptoms were mild when he caught Covid-19 last year.
The 70-year-old and his wife took their fifth shots at the Kaki Bukit JTVC, where the waiting time stretched up to two hours.
For retiree Steven Koh, 55, who got his shot because he lives with his parents who are in their 80s, there was no need to queue because he had an appointment at the Ang Mo Kio JTVC.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a press conference last Saturday that if there is high demand for vaccines, JTVCs may be open every day from this week.
Those who have yet to receive minimum protection (the equivalent of three mRNA doses), or those aged 50 and above and whose last Covid-19 vaccine jab was at least five months ago, can walk into any of the nine of the JTVCs for the bivalent shot without making an appointment. Only the Bishan centre does not offer it.
People can refer to https://www.gowhere.gov.sg/vaccine to locate the nearest JTVC and their operating hours.
- Additional reporting by Salma Khalik and Ng Sor Luan