SINGAPORE – Students will be able to book appointments to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from Tuesday (June 1), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Monday (May 31).

In a virtual address to the nation giving an update on the pandemic situation, Mr Lee added that after students, the next group to be vaccinated would be those aged 39 and younger, with the Singaporeans given precedence.

Mr Lee noted that there have been more cases of children getting infected in schools and tuition centres in Singapore’s latest outbreak – which has left parents “naturally worried” although no serious illnesses have been recorded.

“Therefore, we will take full advantage of the June holidays to vaccinate students,” he said.

Priority will be given to students sitting for their O-, N- and A-level examinations, as well as special needs students.

Next, students 12 years and above will take their turn, including those in institutions of higher learning, said Mr Lee.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung had previously announced on May 18 that the green light had been given for those aged 12 to 15 toreceive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Vaccination of those aged 39 and below should start around mid-June, Mr. Lee said on Monday.

Noting this group is “quite large”, he said Singaporeans will be given a two-week priority window to book their appointments ahead of the rest who wish to be vaccinated.

Mr Lee also noted that nearly four in 10 residents have had at least one jab.

Still, he stressed the need to vaccinate more people, and faster, as part of Singapore’s fight against the coronavirus.

“We’ve made good progress since vaccinations started in December,” he said.

“Our healthcare and front-line workers, and the majority of those 45 and above, have already received at least their first dose. These are the ones more at risk from Covid-19.”

Vaccination of those aged 40 to 44 is currently underway, along with a recently announced move to prioritise first-dose vaccinations.

Singapore’s target of getting two-thirds of residents vaccinated with at least the first dose should be met by early July – provided supplies come in as planned, said Mr Lee.

“We want to protect as many Singaporeans as possible, as soon as we can, especially with the new Covid-19 variants,” Mr Lee added. “This approach will quickly provide the maximum number of people with good protection, instead of a good number of people with maximum protection.”

With Singapore’s 40 vaccination centres running smoothly, the constraint is due to vaccine supply, he said.

“This is why we’ve been working very hard to confirm and speed up deliveries of vaccines from our suppliers,” said Mr Lee, adding that since the last update by the multi-ministry taskforce on Covid-19 in mid-May, Singapore has received further confirmation of faster vaccine deliveries over the next two months.

“With the latest supply schedule, we can further boost our vaccination programme. We can offer the vaccine to everyone, even sooner than we expected,” he said.

Mr Lee added: “Everyone who is eligible for a vaccination and wants one should be able to get at least their first jab by National Day. Whether you are old or young, please come forward to be vaccinated once it’s your turn.”

“With the more infectious virus strains, we need as many people as possible to be vaccinated, in order to reach herd immunity, or get close to it. This is the way to make everyone safe and resume more normal activities.”

Text: Justin Ong/The Straits Times