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Covid-19 vaccination: MOH to provide financial assistance for people affected by serious side effects

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health on Thursday (Jan 28) announced it will provide financial aid for those who suffer serious side effects from getting their Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore. However, it expects “few” people will need the programme, which is meant to “give a greater peace of mind for those taking the vaccination”.

Covid-19 vaccination: MOH to provide financial assistance for people affected by serious side effects

A senior resident getting a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Tanjong Pagar Community Club on Jan 27, 2021.

  • A payment of up to S$10,000 will be made to those suffering serious side effects after getting a Covid-19 vaccine
  • This has to be judged by doctors to have been linked to the vaccine
  • A payment of S$225,000 will be made if a person dies or suffers severe permanent disability
  • More than 113,000 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
  • There have been 432 “adverse event reports” from these, which were resolved within a few days

     

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health on Thursday (Jan 28) announced it will provide financial aid for those who suffer serious side effects from getting their Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore. However, it expects “few” people will need the programme, which is meant to “give a greater peace of mind for those taking the vaccination”.

In a press statement, MOH added that more than 113,000 people in Singapore have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, while more than 50 of them have completed their full vaccination regime after receiving their second dose.

Of those who have been vaccinated, there have been 432 “adverse event reports” from healthcare professionals, MOH said.

“Most of these reports were for regular symptoms such as injection site pain and swelling, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, giddiness, nausea and allergic reactions such as itch, rash, swelling of eyes or lips or both.

“These symptoms are reactions generally associated with all vaccinations and they generally resolved on their own within a few days.”

Three people suffered anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction known to be experienced by a very small proportion of the population. All had recovered after a day in hospital and had been discharged.

HOW THE FINANCIAL SCHEME WORKS

The financial assistance scheme is called the vaccine injury financial assistance programme for Covid-19 vaccination (Vifap). It will provide two tiers of support to those who may be adversely affected by their inoculation.

The first is a one-time payout of up to S$10,000 that will be given to those who were hospitalised and required care in the high dependency or intensive care unit, but later recover from the side effects caused by the vaccine.

The second is a payout of S$225,000 that will be provided when a person dies or suffers permanent severe disability as a result of the vaccination.

MOH stressed that those who have experienced serious side effects after their Covid-19 vaccinations can continue to receive support through the applicable healthcare schemes, such as the Central Provident Fund's MediShield Life as well as subsidies at Singapore’s public healthcare institutions.

To qualify for the financial support, the person must be a Singaporean, permanent resident or long-term pass holder who received their vaccination here.

The person must have “experienced a serious side effect that is potentially life-threatening or fatal, and has required inpatient hospitalisation or has caused persistent incapacity or disability”, MOH said.

These serious side effects must then be assessed by a doctor to be linked to the Covid-19 vaccination.

MOH said that it has since also appointed an independent clinical panel comprising experts in the relevant fields such as neurology, immunology and infectious diseases, to assess and adjudicate Vifap applications. This is because the “severity of (the) serious side effects can be broad, and assessment by the treating doctors may vary”.

MAXIMISING PROTECTION AGAINST COVID-19

The ministry stressed that vaccination is critical to protect “us and our loved ones”, especially those in the community who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons.

This collective protection will become more effective as more people are vaccinated and is a “key enabler allowing us to return to normalcy”.

“We strongly encourage Singaporeans and long-term residents to come forward for vaccination when their turn comes, so that as a society, we can keep each other safe from the disease.

“Even as we progressively vaccinate our population, we must keep in mind that vaccination is not a silver bullet. We must continue to adhere to the safe management measures to help us mitigate the spread and keep community transmission low,” it said.

It added that the three reported cases of anaphylaxis involving the rapid onset of severe allergic reactions were “quickly resolved by healthcare professionals”.

“The individuals, in their 20s and 30s, developed multiple symptoms such as rash, breathlessness, lip swelling, throat tightness and giddiness.” 

All three individuals had a history of allergies, including allergic rhinitis and food allergy such as to shellfish, but none had a history of anaphylaxis that would have precluded them from receiving the vaccine.

MOH added that anaphylaxis can be controlled when detected and treated in a timely manner. As all vaccinated persons in Singapore are closely monitored, the symptoms in these three individuals were promptly detected and treated.

“All have recovered from the episode and were discharged from the hospital after a day’s observation or treatment.”

The incidence rate of anaphylaxis here is now about 2.7 for every 100,000 doses administered.

The incidence rates reported abroad is around one to two per 100,000 doses administered, after millions of vaccine doses have been administered. Variations in the incidence rate are to be expected initially as the numbers vaccinated in Singapore to-date are relatively small.

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services at MOH, said that anaphylaxis is a known but rare side effect of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

“As with all vaccines, there will always be a small proportion of susceptible persons who experience severe allergic reactions upon vaccination,” he said.

“We have put in place precautionary measures such as pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination observation, to ensure that our vaccination programme can be carried out safely,” he added.

“Vaccination remains safe for those who are eligible, and I encourage all Singaporeans and long-term residents to be vaccinated when your turn comes.”

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine Pfizer MOH financial insurance

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