Singapore government has decided to make the Coronavirus vaccination free for all the citizens of the country and long-term residents, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong while addressing the nation on Monday, December 14.

The announcement was made by PM Lee in a national broadcast just before a media conference chaired by the ministerial task force on Coronavirus. He said that people who are at greater risk will be given first priority, including healthcare workers and frontline COVID-19 fighters, as well as the elderly and vulnerable groups of people.

"Thereafter, the committee proposes to progressively vaccinate the rest of the population and to cover everyone who wants a vaccination" by the end of 2021 he said while referring to a committee of healthcare professionals appointed by the Ministry of Health.

pm lee hsien loong
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Reuters

Vaccination in Singapore

Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19-19 vaccine and the first shipment of the doses is expected to arrive in the country by the end of December. PM Lee said he and his colleagues in the cabinet will get the vaccine early to underscore their belief that the vaccines are not harmful. "This is to show you, especially seniors like me, that we believe the vaccines are safe," he said.

Even though vaccinations are voluntary and there will be no pressure from the authority to Singaporeans, PM Lee urged people to get the shot when it will be offered to them. "Because when you get yourself vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself," he said and explained that "the more of us are vaccinated, the harder it will be for the virus to spread, and the safer we will all be as a society."

Coronavirus vaccine
Free vaccine for Singapore Pixabay

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has received emergency approval in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently and used in the UK's mass vaccination program. On Monday, Singapore PM said more vaccines will become available in the months ahead and if everything goes according to the plan, there will be enough vaccines for everyone in the country by the third quarter of 2021. As of Monday, Singapore has reported over 58,300 Coronavirus cases and 29 deaths.

However, there are currently over 50 Covid-19 vaccine candidates in clinical trials worldwide. Apart from Pfizer-BioNTech which received regulatory approval in Canada, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, there are a few promising vaccine candidates, waiting for a green light, including Moderna and AstraZeneca. While some vaccine developers are trying to make sure that the jab against COVID-19 will be safe and effective, Russia's controversial Sputnik V vaccine is likely to offer two-year-long protection against the disease, said Alexander Gintsburg, the head of the vaccine's developer, Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology.