Covid-19 vaccine: Some ready to get jab, others prefer to wait and see

Travellers waiting to check in for a flight at Changi Airport in October. Some Singaporeans are keen to get a Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible so they can resume travelling.
PHOTO: The Straits Times/ Jason Quah

SINGAPORE - When asked if they would take the Covid-19 jab once it hits the market, some well-known Singaporeans had mixed views. Some would do so right away, while others adopted a wait-and-see approach.

Retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said he would take any vaccine that meets European or North American standards as soon as it was available to him. He was keen to do so to be able to travel again, he said.

Professor Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, drew a comparison with the polio epidemic Singapore faced in the 1950s.

Singapore rolled out the vaccine in the middle of the epidemic and became a "model for the world", he said. "I think that with a broad roll-out of the vaccine, the number of cases may drop dramatically, then the World Health Organisation can declare the pandemic over and we can all go back to the things we loved to do before."

Last week, three former United States presidents promised to get inoculated once a vaccine is given the nod - a move intended to build confidence about vaccine safety.

Several vaccine candidates have been much talked about, including those by pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna. The Pfizer vaccine is the one being rolled out in the United Kingdom now.

Some, however, were a little less ready to roll up their sleeves.

"I would not take it right away. I would wait for the vaccine to have been tried out for six months before I try it," said Professor Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute in the National University of Singapore.

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Since the UK has started vaccinating its population, it is only prudent to watch developments on this front, said Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, and a lawyer by training. "Perhaps in three to six months, we will have a better picture of its efficacies and risks."

Singapore Manufacturing Association president Douglas Foo said: "Without being medically trained myself, I think it would be prudent to take advice from medical professionals as to if and when a vaccine should be taken."

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira said she would consider taking the vaccine after it has been made available to those who need it most. "There is hope that a vaccine will allow more economic and travel activities to resume, and for our lives to return to some semblance of normalcy," she said.

"However, we need to be cognisant that vaccines are not the end-all, and will need to be complemented by precautions that will likely... continue to be in place."