SINGAPORE — Of the 802 deaths that occurred due to the coronavirus in 2021, some 555 of them were not fully vaccinated, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Monday (10 January).
The remaining 247 were vaccinated with a range of locally available vaccines.
"The unvaccinated and under-vaccinated are still most prone to falling severely ill when infected," said Ong, who was responding to a query from Hougang Member of Parliament (MP) Dennis Tan on the breakdown of COVID-19 deaths.
The minister noted that although the unvaccinated form a small proportion of Singapore's population, they contributed to 70 per cent of the deaths in 2021. Furthermore, such individuals have consistently taken up two-thirds of intensive care unit (ICU) beds throughout the pandemic.
How many are medically ineligible for vaccination?
Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh also asked how many Singaporeans and permanent residents respectively are deemed to be medically ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination. In response, Ong said that around 132,000 individuals aged 18 years and above remain unvaccinated, while around 300 are medically ineligible.
"We will continue to try to convince those who are medically eligible to get vaccinated through their primary care physicians, public messaging and the media. But as Members will appreciate, as the numbers get smaller, it becomes harder and harder to convince them," said Ong.
This was why vaccinated differentiated safe management measures (VDS) were introduced, in order to protect unvaccinated individuals against infections and serious illnesses and taking up hospital resources. "The rest of society who have been vaccinated can also then live life more normally," Ong said.
Last month, COVID-19 vaccination for children aged five to 11 began as Singapore extended the national vaccination programme to cover over 300,000 children. The multi-ministry task force on COVID-19 (MTF) had said then that there were no plans to impose VDS on children aged 5-11.
Responding to Sengkang MP He Ting Ru's query on this, the Minister reiterated that there are presently no plans to introduce such measures for children aged 12 and below in community, public, pre-school and school settings.
"This is due to a combination of reasons namely, children are less likely to develop severe illnesses when infected and we want to preserve, as much as possible, universal access to holistic education of children."
For now, children aged 12 and below who are Singapore citizens, permanent residents or long term pass holders and did not travel recently, will continue to have their COVID-19 medical bills fully covered by the government, and this is regardless of their vaccination status.
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