Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinovac? You Can Now Choose Your Preferred Vaccine in Singapore
This story was first published on April 14, 2021, and updated on August 12, 2021.
As Singapore allows dining-in to resume and lifts restrictions for the vaccinated in the community, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has announced in a Facebook post on August 11 that individuals who have received their Covid-19 vaccinations overseas can go down to designated clinics to verify their records and use it in Singapore.
Individuals need to show proof of their overseas vaccination and do a serology test that will detect the presence of Covid-19 antibodies.
Their records will then be uploaded into the person’s HealthHub and TraceTogether apps if the serology test indicates that there are antibodies present.
Those who have vaccines that are on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) emergency use listing such as Sinovac or AstraZeneca will only have their records reflected on the HealthHub app and not on TraceTogether yet.
In fact, recently, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that anyone aged 18 and above can walk into any of the 37 vaccination centres offering the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines without an appointment to get their jabs from August 10. This was done in an attempt to make it easier and more convenient for everyone to get their vaccines.
Currently, 70 per cent of the population has taken both Covid-19 vaccine doses while 79 per cent of the population have received at least one dose.
If you are among those who have yet to be vaccinated and would like to choose which Covid-19 vaccine to receive, take note that MOH has also released the full list of vaccination centres and types of vaccines on their website for easy access.
Those eligible will be able to choose their vaccine according to the vaccination centre that offers their preferred type, be it Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinovac.
MODERNA AND PFIZER-BIONTECH/COMIRNATY
The Moderna vaccine is currently available at 11 of the vaccination centres in Singapore while 26 centres are supplied with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Currently, both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are very similar. They both use the new messenger RNA technology which injects parts of the virus’s genetic material into the body. This then teaches cells to create a protein that will trigger an immune response. This will allow your body to produce antibodies to fight the virus.
The reported side effects of both vaccines are also very similar with people typically reporting pain or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, fever, chills, nausea and joint pains.
Both vaccines also have similar efficacy rates with Moderna’s being at 94 per cent and Pfizer’s at 95 per cent.
The only difference between the two vaccine types is that Moderna requires two doses taken at least four weeks apart while Pfizer requires two doses taken at least three weeks apart.
Additionally, Singapore received a new batch of vaccines, called Comirnaty recently.
These vaccines are the same as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that are now used in the national vaccination programme and will be reflected as Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty in your HealthHub records if you get it.
Sinovac, on the other hand, is the latest vaccine to enter the market. Currently, there are 31 private clinics islandwide that have been selected to administer it. A single dose will cost you between $10 to $25 and you will need two doses.
"As these vaccines are being provided to the providers at no cost, individuals should take note that the providers should not charge them for the vaccine cost. There should not be any additional costs (beyond the vaccination administration fees listed) charged by these providers," MOH said.
However, do note that because Sinovac is not part of the national vaccine programme, it will not be covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme for Covid-19 Vaccination.
Additionally, recipients of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine will not be exempted from pre-event testing yet, according to MOH.
This is because it is not included in the national vaccine programme which means that it may lack sufficient data as to how well they can protect a person against the virus.
However, MOH hopes to be able to allow people who have received Sinovac to enjoy the same benefits as those vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna when more information becomes available on the Sinovac vaccine.
"The Health Sciences Authority and our Expert Committee are going through the various data. When the evidence justifies it, we will certainly want to extend the concessions to individuals who have received the Sinovac or other vaccines which may qualify," said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on July 26.
Individuals who take the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine will also not be included in Singapore’s national vaccination numbers as the national numbers only reflect those vaccinated under the national vaccination programme. However, your vaccine record will be still reflected on the National Immunisation Registry.
People who suffer from allergic reactions following their first Pfizer or Moderna jabs will also be invited to take Sinovac to complete their vaccine regime, according to Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary in Parliament on Aug 2.
If you are interested in the Sinovac vaccine, you can contact the providers directly from June 18 to get more information.
Additionally, while you are free to choose which centre you wish to get vaccinated at, do note that certain centres or clinics may have limited slots due to the high demand for vaccines and the limited supplies that Singapore has.