On Monday (14 Dec 2020), it was announced that Singapore will be getting its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine by end-December. With Singapore expected to enter Phase 3 from 28 Dec 2020, you might be wondering what vaccines are available out there, what are the differences, what is Islam's position towards the COVID-19 vaccine and more. We've rounded up everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore.
Types of vaccines that you can expect in Singapore
Currently, the Singapore government has signed agreements to secure 3 vaccines.
By end-December - Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine:
- Uses messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA) technology - Once injected, it will "instruct" your body cells to make a piece of protein (that's found on the virus which causes COVID-19) which triggers an immune response inside your body
- From US/Germany
- 95% efficacy rate
- 2 doses needed, 21 days apart
Across 2021 (but specific details are not confirmed yet):
- Uses messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA) - same as Pfizer-BioNTech
- From US
- 95% efficacy rate
- 2 doses needed, 28 days apart
- Uses inactivated virus technology - The virus will be treated with heat, chemicals or radiation and this will keep it inactivated, making it unable to replicate. It can also trigger an immune response.
- From China
- Efficacy - more time needed to determine
- 2 doses needed, 14 days apart
Currently, Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has only approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. In time, we will also see other vaccines in the market once they are approved.
Who will be vaccinated first?
The government mentioned that priority will be given to those at greatest risk of getting the virus. This includes frontline and healthcare workers, the elderly and the vulnerable.
Thereafter, the rest of the population will progressively be vaccinated. By the third quarter of 2021, if all goes well, there should be enough vaccines for everyone.
While the vaccination is voluntary, the government strongly encourages all adult Singaporeans to get vaccinated. However, those who are pregnant, below 16 and immuno-compromised people should not receive the vaccine as more data is needed to understand the effects to these groups.
How much does it cost?
The vaccinations will be free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents.
What are some side effects you can expect after getting vaccinated?
According to HSA, some of the most common side effects that you might experience are pain, redness, swelling at the injection area, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhoea and joint pain. This happens as your body develops immunity against the virus and it happens with normal vaccines too. However, not everyone will undergo the same side effects.
Will life resume back to normal after vaccination?
At this moment, there's not enough evidence to show that vaccination protects against the virus transmitting from one person to another. Hence, masks will still be required and safe distancing will continue to be observed.
Will you be able to travel after getting vaccinated?
This is still very uncertain. But as more countries get vaccines for their citizens, the tests that travellers must go through might also change. For example, travellers might need to take a test to show that they have antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. Travellers might also need to show proof or certification of vaccination. One thing for sure, safety protocols will still need to be adhered to, but these will be updated according to the situation. Travel bubbles will most likely be the first arrangements for travelling. Read more about it in our article here.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine permissible for Muslims?
In response to many queries on the permissibility of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has issued religious guidance on the issue.
MUIS holds the position that the use of the COVID-19 vaccine is permissible for Muslims because in the current situation, it is "important to save lives, provide greater health assurance and facilitate the return to economic activity and livelihood as much as possible".
The Office of the Mufti has also considered 3 main aspects when coming up with the decision:
- Vaccine as a basic necessity
- Safety and efficacy of vaccines
- Permissibility of ingredients used in vaccines
MUIS also encourages Muslims to be vaccinated once the vaccines are available and after they have been authorised as safe and effective.
You can read the religious guidance by MUIS on their website.
It won't be long before Singapore (and the world) gets the COVID-19 vaccines. With the vaccines, hopefully, there'll be light at the end of the tunnel and we can safely return to our lives pre-COVID. What do you think of the COVID-19 vaccine? Let us know in the comments section!