SINGAPORE - Seventeen healthcare providers, including Raffles Medical, Parkway Shenton and Thomson Medical, have been appointed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to set up and run 36 new vaccination centres and 10 mobile vaccination teams.
This comes as Singapore plans to start mass vaccinations against Covid-19 for the elderly from next Monday (Feb 22), following the pilot scheme for seniors in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar.
According to documents seen by reporters, the tender, which is worth $38 million, was jointly awarded to the 17 providers on Feb 11. It stated that the vaccination centres should be able to cater to at least 2,000 people a day.
The centres and the teams will be set up progressively and the number required is subject to change.
Other providers that have been awarded the tender to run vaccination centres include Sata CommHealth, Fullerton Healthcare Group, and Healthway Medical Group. A total of 21 vendors had placed bids for the tender.
Two operators among the 17, Acumed Medical and social enterprise Jaga-Me, will be running only mobile teams that will provide mass vaccinations at sites such as nursing homes.
Sites for vaccination centres could include vacant schools, community clubs and sports halls. The assigned vaccination centres will operate for up to 12 months, and should operate from 8am to 10pm daily, including weekends and public holidays.
The mobile vaccination teams will comprise a medical doctor, four nurses and three administration staff, and will operate from 8am to 6pm daily.
Mr Sugumaran Subramanyam, head of operations and corporate affairs at Sata CommHealth, told reporters it will be operating two vaccination centres and two mobile vaccination teams.
Its mobile teams are already operational and have been deployed since Monday (Feb 15), with 400 people vaccinated over the past four days.
The number of people vaccinated by the two mobile teams is expected to eventually rise to 300 a day, he added.
MOH had said in its tender that the appointed vendors will form part of its panel of Covid-19 vaccination resources, and that other vendors or in-house resources may be sought to administer vaccines where appropriate.
It was previously announced that each of the 24 towns in Singapore will have one community vaccination centre by end-March, as the nation ramps up its Covid-19 vaccination drive. According to an MOH website, these centres include Jalan Besar Community Centre, Bishan Community Centre, Canberra Community Centre and Serangoon Community Centre.
Shots can also be administered at all 20 polyclinics as well as some general practitioners' clinics.
Singapore has so far approved the use of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines have been shown to be about 95 per cent effective against the coronavirus that is causing the pandemic.
The two Pfizer-BioNTech injections should be given three weeks apart, while the second Moderna injection is 28 days after the first. Experts have said that a few days of delay will not reduce the efficacy of the vaccines.
So far, about 250,000 people have received at least one jab, while 55,000 - including President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - have received both doses.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong also said in a written Parliamentary response on Tuesday that around 73 per cent of healthcare workers in Singapore's public and private sectors, including primary care, acute hospitals and those in long-term care settings, have received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. About 72 per cent of Covid-19 frontline workers and essential workers in the aviation and maritime sectors have also been vaccinated.
Mr Gan was responding to questions from Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak, Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan and Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa.
Mr Gan added that the progress of Singapore's vaccination exercise is currently constrained by the availability of vaccine supplies.
"If vaccine supplies arrive on schedule, we will have enough vaccines for all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the third quarter of this year and will be able to complete the vaccination programme by the end of this year," said Mr Gan, adding that the progress can be accelerated if Singapore can secure more supplies earlier.
"However, we expect global supply chains are likely to be disrupted from time to time for various reasons," added Mr Gan, citing how disruptions at the manufacturer's production facility has led to shipment delays. "We continue to monitor closely the situation for any potential vaccine supply disruptions globally."