Queue jumpers dog Singapore’s vaccine rollout

Splash has unearthed many non-key workers who have jumped the queue for a Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore. Many citizens and residents in the Lion Republic have used vague shipping-related job descriptions to ensure they get a priority Covid-19 vaccine ahead of key workers, including in maritime, as well as the elderly.

In mid-January, Singapore rolled out its Sea – Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE), part of the country’s national Covid-19 vaccination strategy to protect frontline personnel. Frontline personnel include port workers, harbour pilots, cargo officers, marine surveyors and marine superintendents who are required to work onboard ships in Singapore.

Within a month of SAVE kicking off more than 50,000 employees within the transport sector had been jabbed. As of today, more than 18,000 frontline maritime personnel have been vaccinated two doses for Covid-19, something few other nations around the world can boast. However, it has come to light that many of those vaccinated did not fall into frontline personnel categories.

Splash has learnt many maritime workers involved in administration, who never come close to a port or a ship in their daily jobs, have been vaccinated ahead of time.

“If you walk into the vaccination centre in SunTec City and suggest that you work in maritime then you will get a jab there and then,” one well placed source told Splash. SunTec is a prominent downtown shopping mall, containing one of more than 20 vaccination centres created in the Southeast Asian nation this year. Multiple other Singapore contacts have confirmed many non-frontline workers have been vaccinated before they ought to have been.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) denied that locals had been breaking the rules to get their vaccines early.

The MPA put in place a registration process for frontline maritime personnel to receive the Covid-19 vaccination early.

“We did not come across cases of individuals jumping the queue,” a spokesperson insisted when contacted by Splash.

As of March 15, Singaporean medics had administered more than 792,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine across the republic’s 5.7m population. Other key workers getting jabbed early include those working at Singapore’s borders, hospital workers and people employed in the construction industry. Vaccinations for seniors commenced island-wide on February 22.

Vaccinations for non-keyworkers and those who have not hit retirement age is meant to start next month with the government stating that the aim is to ensure all Singaporeans and long-term residents will have the chance to be vaccinated by the end of the year.

Currently, vaccines from only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been approved for use in Singapore.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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