A few thousand people here who have had allergic reactions to the Covid-19 vaccines used in Singapore’s national inoculation programme will be offered Sinovac jabs by the Government as part of a study to understand the immunity offered by different vaccines.
About 3,600 people who were allergic to the first dose of the mRNA vaccines have been contacted, and more than 1,400 have indicated an interest in the programme, The Straits Times has learnt.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday: “To better understand the immunity conferred by the use of different vaccines, we will work with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to follow up with a sub-group of these persons who have received the mRNA vaccine, followed by the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine, under a research study on Covid-19 vaccine immune response.”
MOH has been in touch with the people who have indicated an interest in the programme to keep them updated on how they can receive the Sinovac vaccine, the spokesman added.
The Sinovac vaccine is not part of Singapore’s national vaccination regime, which currently uses the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna vaccines. Both these vaccines use mRNA technology and have been authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Sinovac’s vaccine remains unregistered and is not authorised by the HSA. It is provided here only under the Special Access Route framework.
HSA said yesterday that as at June 28, it had received two adverse event reports of hives – a red, itchy skin rash – after taking the Sinovac vaccine. The effects are not serious, it added.
Vaccines under this framework are not covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme, which supports people who suffer adverse effects from their Covid-19 jabs.
MOH said on Thursday that if people who have had allergic reactions to mRNA vaccines wish to receive the Sinovac vaccine, it has established a dedicated programme for them to be vaccinated at a public hospital clinic for closer monitoring of any side effects.
This programme will take into account their previous allergic reaction and a lack of data on the safety profile of receiving a Sinovac vaccine dose following one dose of an mRNA vaccine, said MOH.
It also said that those who have received one dose of an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine but are unable to receive the second dose due to allergic reactions may choose to wait for the non-mRNA vaccines that MOH plans to bring in for use in the national vaccination programme.
Such vaccines will have to be first assessed for quality, safety and effectiveness under HSA’s Pandemic Special Access Route.
The authorities gave approval last month to 24 private healthcare clinics to draw on the Government’s existing stock of the Sinovac vaccine.
Yesterday, MOH added seven more, bringing the total to 31.
The fees for administering one dose of the vaccine at the seven clinics range from $20 to $25, and covers consultation costs, administration and taxes.
MOH said yesterday: “Since June 18, the initial 24 selected clinics have been providing the Sinovac vaccine in a cautious manner and managing the number of vaccines they administer (daily).”
The additional clinics will help clear appointment lists from the 24 existing clinics, and may not take in new appointments for those wanting the Sinovac vaccine.
People are advised to call the clinics or visit their websites to book an appointment.
Over the past two weeks, many clinics have received calls and requests from people wanting the Sinovac jab, and many rushed to register their interest in getting the China-made vaccine.
HSA has also received four applications from private healthcare institutions to import Covid-19 vaccines under the Special Access Route framework.