Coming soon: The Immediate Rush for H1N1 Vaccine??

For a vaccine which provide immunity for only 1 year against H1N1 flu virus, I have this disturbing thought that the recent news on how some foreigners might come to Singapore for the vaccine (which by the way there are only 250,000 doses received) is only meant to 'encourage' Singaporeans' sense of kiasuism to queuing for the vaccine. (On a separate note, I'm impressed that there's a Wikipedia article on 'kiasu'.)

Sure, there are some side effects. That's just usual. No big deal. And the cost of the vaccine is merely $29. And more importantly, if you don't hurry to get the vaccine, foreigners would get it instead! How can?!

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said Sunday he expects some foreigners to come to Singapore for the H1N1 vaccine.

However, Mr Khaw said there is a sufficient supply of vaccines for Singaporeans who need it.


So far, Singapore has received 250,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, and a further 750,000 doses are expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event, Mr Khaw said that more vaccines can be ordered if necessary.

"Indonesians who used to come here, will come here, because they may not get enough supply from their side," Mr Khaw explained.

"Malaysia, I don't know if their supply has come yet. So I think we should expect some portion of the vaccines to be taken up by foreigners, but that's alright," he added.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Health Minister expects foreigners to come to Singapore for H1N1 vaccine".

And previously on 03/11/09:
Those who want to get vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus can do so within the next few days.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) rolled out some 50,000 doses of the vaccine to all 18 polyclinics as well as 440 family doctors on Tuesday. The 440 are part of the 600 Pandemic Preparedness Clinics in Singapore.

This comes six weeks after Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that the ministry managed to secure some one million doses of the vaccine.

The first batch of 250,000 doses arrived in Singapore last week, and it took a few days before the ministry received clearance from the vaccine's manufacturer to release the batch of vaccine after it was certified to have undergone proper handling standards.

DaySpring Medical Clinic in Pasir Ris was one of the first to get the vaccine on Tuesday noon, and is offering the vaccine for S$30.

"We've made a total order of 1,500 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, of which, 1,100 have had patients register an interest. Of these, 600 are for two community projects to be rolled out in the coming month and the remaining 500 will be for either companies that have indicated interest in us, or walk-in patients," said Dr Eric Chiam, medical director of DaySpring Medical Clinic.

The clinic will be calling patients who have registered to get the vaccine in the past few weeks.

In the meantime, Dr Chiam is getting his frontline staff vaccinated against the H1N1 virus. Each dose of the vaccine is expected to give the average person a year's immunity against the virus.

Health Minister Khaw said in his blog on Monday that the first batch of 200,000 doses is sufficient to meet demand.

Of these, about 110,000 doses will be taken up by general practitioners as well as clinics. Another 80,000 doses will be set aside to vaccinate the first batch of frontline staff.

The MOH said another batch of 160,000 doses of the vaccine is expected to arrive within this month.

All one million doses that the ministry ordered will be delivered by the end of the year. This is in line with the ministry's stand that there should be enough vaccines to go around for now.

From Channel NewsAsia, "H1N1 vaccine rolled out to public and private clinics in Singapore".

And previously on 02/11/09:
Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the first batch of 200,000 doses of H1N1 vaccines should be sufficient to meet initial demand.

More than half, or 110,000 doses, have been taken up by general practitioners and clinics.

According to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), the vaccines are safe to use. Discussions with foreign counterparts indicate that the safety profile of the H1N1 vaccines are similar to those of the seasonal flu.

The benefits of the H1N1 vaccines outweigh the possible side effects, according to HSA. It said this is especially so for certain groups, like those with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, as well as pregnant women.

But some recipients are likely to have side-effects from the H1N1 jab. One in 10 patients are expected to experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue and muscle aches. And one in five may experience nausea and vomiting.

These side-effects are similar to those from the usual seasonal flu vaccine.


Health officials in Singapore said some side effects may be coincidental and not directly caused by the vaccine.

They added that in the event there is an unusually high number of known side effects, they may issue advisories to alert the public on who are those more at risk. Authorities may then even limit the use of the vaccines.

This is also the time of the year when the common flu vaccines are given to patients as well. But doctors caution against having both the H1N1 and the common flu vaccines at the same time.

Dr Swee Yong Peng, CEO, Parkway Shenton Group, said: "We feel that some people do develop side effects from flu vaccinations or H1N1 vaccinations. So having them together may increase the side effects, so we suggest taking them a week apart."

Doctors are encouraging those in the high risk groups to consider taking both vaccines.

Currently only those above the age of 18 are allowed to take the H1N1 vaccine. However, health officials are waiting for additional information, expected in mid-November, to help them assess the use of the vaccine on children.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Health authorities say H1N1 vaccines in Singapore are safe for usage".

And previously on 29/10/09:
ALL 18 polyclinics here will be selling the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine at $29 per dose, when it arrives in about a week.

Singapore will receive a million doses by year-end, of which 20 per cent will be reserved for health-care workers.

From Asiaone, "H1N1 vaccine to cost $29 at polyclinics".

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