Singaporean doctor in Britain among first few to get Covid-19 vaccine

While most are wondering when their turn will come, one Singaporean has already got his Covid-19 jab in a mass vaccination exercise.

Dr Martin Tan was among the first few to get inoculated in Britain – the first western country to roll out mass vaccination against the coronavirus.

Dr Tan, 27, got the first of his two vaccine jabs yesterday at 12.45pm (8.45pm Singapore time) in London, where he is a house officer doing his rotation in respiratory medicine.

He got his vaccine as early as day two of the exercise because his work entails direct contact with Covid-19 patients. He has helped to care for them at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead in London since August.

He agreed that getting the vaccine jab early brings its own concerns. Pfizer has obtained indemnity from the British government should any mishaps occur.

“Of course this is a new vaccine with a new method of delivery (mRNA). Most medical practitioners were also sceptical about potential risks of this being ‘rushed’ because it has been so quick for this to be approved.”

On the other hand, he added: “I work with Covid-19 patients every day, so it is a balance of risk and benefit. And I accept the risks given the benefits of the vaccine.”

He knew he would have to get vaccinated sooner or later and also had an added incentive.

“I have been looking forward to it because this is our ticket back to some normality in this world. I am dying to come back to Singapore to see my family and eat... ”

He has been in Britain since 2014 for his medical education. His last visit home was in March, when he first had to be on stay-home notice, followed by quarantine when someone sitting near him on the flight back was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Dr Tan, who described himself as “still single, available and ready to mingle”, returned to London at the end of July to start work there.

He received the injection, which is free under the National Health Service, at the hospital where he works. He said the situation in Britain is not well-controlled. “We were having a second wave, which is putting a lot of pressure on the health service and on beds in the entire country, but it seems to be improving now.”