Immunization procrastinator lost in Singapore

When the Singapore government last month announced measures to clearly distinguish those who have had the Covid-19 vaccine from those who have not, they were immediately effective. Vaccination rates skyrocketed, from 70% of the eligible population who completed the two-shot regimen on August 8 to 78% two weeks later.

Restaurants reopened for on-site dining from August 10 for fully vaccinated people, and a week later, the work-from-home rules were relaxed, allowing around 50% employees back to the office. Shopping centers and cinemas are welcoming more vaccinated guests and temperature checks at the entrance have also stopped.

A health worker receives a Covid-19 vaccine at Singapore's National Center for Infectious Diseases in December last year.  Photo: Reuters.

A health worker receives a Covid-19 vaccine at Singapore’s National Center for Infectious Diseases in December last year. Photo: Reuters.

Mother-of-two Ong, 38, was hesitant about mRNA vaccine technology and delayed vaccination for as long as possible because of concerns about adverse reactions from vaccines she believes were developed too quickly.

“I’m concerned about myocarditis, one of the potential side effects of vaccines,” she said. The WHO has repeatedly stated that this side effect is very rare and that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the potential risks.

When the Singapore government announced new restrictive measures for the unvaccinated, Ong said she felt extremely pressured. “I felt like an outcast from society,” she said. “So I reluctantly decided to get vaccinated so that I could enjoy the feeling of freedom.”

Bee chose the Pfizer vaccine and got the first shot. After the first injection, she was tired, headache and nauseated for two days. While she waits to be certified as fully vaccinated, a status that takes effect only two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine, she eats and drinks at home and doesn’t socialize like she used to.

Regulations that came into effect on August 10 in Singapore prohibit unvaccinated people over the age of 13 from dining at restaurants. Unvaccinated people are also banned from going to closed gyms or participating in indoor fitness classes without wearing a mask and encouraged to gather with a maximum of two people.

There are ways to solve this problem, but they are quite expensive. An unvaccinated person can dine in a restaurant if they bring a negative Covid-19 test result issued by a medical facility for a fee of 22.5-48.5 USD.

Lim, 42, a dance teacher, has had two shots of the vaccine and believes vaccination is a noble act in the interest of all of humanity.

“We all crave connection. If vaccination can help rebuild connections, businesses, reopen tourism then I’m happy to do that,” she said.

Lim noticed a divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated people on social media. She believes that misinformation has adversely affected part of the community.

A billboard at a restaurant in Chinatown, Singapore, has a note that only serves customers who have been vaccinated.  Photo: Reuters.

A billboard at a restaurant in Chinatown, Singapore, has a note that only serves customers who have been vaccinated. Photo: Reuters.

“People who have been vaccinated are getting on with their lives, but those who are anti-vaccination are causing themselves more emotional trauma by venting anger on social media,” Lim said.

As of September 13, 81% of Singapore’s 5.9 million people had received two doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Recently, Singapore has allowed the injection of several other vaccines on the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use list, including China’s Sinovac.

Tan is one of the unvaccinated. Nearly 40 years old and breastfeeding, Tan said the main reason she decided not to get the shot was because she didn’t have enough knowledge about the adverse effects of the mRNA vaccine on children.

“There are no long-term studies on the effects of mRNA technology on the human body, so I chose to put my trust in my immune system and the other immune-boosting strategies I used. time,” she said. Tan took vitamin C, D and zinc supplements, followed a completely plant-based diet and exercised regularly.

A strong believer in individual freedoms and responsibility, Tan believes that unvaccinated people are being discriminated against in Singapore, but she doesn’t care about the restrictions that unvaccinated people like herself have to face. bear. “If people want to judge me, that’s their business,” Tan said.

After a year and a half living under strict restrictions, many Singaporeans decided to get vaccinated to help the country reopen safely. But the number of Covid-19 cases is on the rise again, prompting the government to advise people to limit non-essential social activities.

With Ong, she couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the recent announcements from the authorities. “With more than 80% of the population vaccinated, the government still advises people to avoid social activities and issues new testing regulations that are constantly changing and very confusing,” lamented Ong.

She wants Singapore to return to “normal life” but still wants people to continue to wear masks in public. “We have to accept the fact that most people will get Covid-19, but will recover,” Ong said.

Vu Hoang (Follow SCMP)


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