February 1, 2021
Living through a pandemic in a digital world can be information overload. It is normal to feel concerned and worried. Let us help you better understand the development of COVID-19 vaccination to enable you to make a more well-informed decision.
WHAT ARE THE COVID-19 VACCINES AVAILABLE IN SINGAPORE?
Singapore has secured a portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines from 3 leading suppliers – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac. Vaccination programme in Singapore has already been rolled out since 30th December 2020.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE COVID-19 VACCINES?
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines while Sinovac uses inactivated vaccine technology. Let’s break down the difference between these 2 types of vaccines.
mRNA vaccines use only fragments of the virus’ genetic material to make a specific protein that mimics the spike protein that is found on the virus (the key part of the virus). This trains your body to recognise, respond and build antibodies against the virus, thus neutralising and preventing the COVID-19 disease.
Inactivated vaccine technology uses weakened or inactive viral particles to stimulate your body to produce an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. This means the virus can no longer replicate even if the spike protein is still intact.
HOW DO I KNOW IT IS SAFE TO TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
The vaccine data will always point to safety in animal studies first before being tested on humans. When clinical trials start, the first two phases are carried out in small groups of up to hundreds of volunteers to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. The third phase is usually much larger, involving thousands to tens of thousands of people, and held across multiple jurisdictions or countries.
The third phase of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has involved more than 43,000* people and Moderna has involved more than 30,000* people.
Even after clinical trials have concluded, these data have to be reviewed again by the Health Science Authority (HSA) and Expert Committee on COVID-19 vaccination before Singapore approves of the vaccine. This means the candidates and vaccines will undergo a multi-step “screening” process and multiple safety checks before approval.
WHO SHOULD TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
While the vaccination programme is voluntary, all individuals who are medically eligible and above 16 years old are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. Priority is given to the elderly, those who are at higher risk and vulnerable groups with chronic medical conditions. Until further efficacy and safety data are available, pregnant woman, individuals who are immune compromised and those with multiple or severe allergies are not recommended to take the vaccine.
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
Being vaccinated reduces your risk from being hospitalised due to COVID-19. It also reduces your risk of developing adverse complications from COVID-19. Not only does vaccination reduces the number of people susceptible to the coronavirus, it also reduces the chances of transmission in the community and ensure a safer society. This means we are helping to protect those who are medically unable to be vaccinated.
As more of us are vaccinated, this also help to prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. Additionally, with more vaccination coverage, it enables the nation to re-open further, facilitate the recovery of our economy, allow more social activities to resume and progressively return society to normalcy.
While vaccination for COVID-19 is progressively made available to everyone, it does not mean we can become complacent in our fight against this pandemic. Current safety practices such as regular hand sanitisation, wearing of masks, and keeping to social distancing measures should still be observed. Let’s us all do our part to remain united and vigilant, and help protect our loved ones through vaccination.
Article reviewed by Dr Michael Wong, Deputy Medical Director, Raffles Medical Group.
*Cited from The Straits Times.
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