The Ultimate COVID-19 Vaccine Guide: Which Vaccine Should I Choose & Types of Payouts Available
On 21 Dec 2020, Singapore was the first nation in Asia to receive the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Since then, we’ve watched videos of our favourite PM Lee and Mdm President getting vaccinated by healthcare professionals.
Under Singapore’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, we are now able to receive our jabs to protect ourselves against COVID-19.
While this is a huge step forward in our battle against this dangerous disease, some of us might still be wondering whether we should be taking this vaccine.
In this article, we also explore the types of COVID-19 vaccine, possible side effects, government schemes and free insurance coverage that is available to alleviate any financial worries.
TL;DR: COVID-19 Vaccine Guide: Types of Vaccine in Singapore, Side Effects & Financial Assistance for Complications
|COVID-19 Vaccination in Singapore: All You Need To Know|
|Type of Vaccine Used in Singapore||- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
- Sinovac vaccine (not part of national vaccine programme)
|Difference Between Vaccines||Pfizer-BioNTech & Moderna: mRNA vaccine
Sinovac: Non-mRNA vaccine
- Pfizer-BioNTech & Moderna: 95%
- Sinovac: 51%
- Duration between doses and dosage volume
- Suitability for individuals
|Vaccine Cost||Pfizer-BioNTech & Moderna:
Free for Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore
$10 to $25 for single dose (administration fees)
|Possible Side Effects||Common:
- Pain, redness, swelling at the injection site
- Fever, chills
- Headache, muscle pain, joint pain
- Lymph node swelling at neck or arms
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of face, throat, eyes or lips
- Fast heartbeat
- Dizziness and weakness
- Bad rash
|When Can I Take My Vaccine?||Students aged 12 and above: Registration starts from 1 Jun onwards
Aged 39 and below: Registration starts from 11 Jun onwards
Aged 40 and above: Ongoing, those aged 60 and above can do walk-ins without registration or pre-booking
|Financial Assistance by Government||Hospitalisation costs due to adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccination covered by:
- MediShield Life
- Integrated Shield Plans
|Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP):
- One-time payout of $2,000 for inpatient hospitalisation and medical intervention, and later recovers
- One-time payout of up to $10,000 for severe medical cases
- $225,000 for permanent severe disability or death
|Free COVID-19 Vaccine Insurance||AIA: Daily Hospital Income Benefit of $500 per day (up to 2 days)|
|Aviva: Coverage for medical bills including hospitalisation or inpatient treatment|
|AXA: Reimbursement of medical expenses such as hospitalisation and outpatient expenses|
|DBS x Chubb:
- Daily Hospital Cash Benefit: $100 per day (Up to 14 days)
- ICU Hospital Cash Benefit: $1,000 (Lump sum)
- Bereavement Assist Benefit: $10,000 (Lump sum)
|FWD: $5,000 lump sum payout|
|Great Eastern: Daily Hospital Cash Benefit of $300 per day, for a maximum of 7 consecutive days|
|Prudential: Daily hospital cash of $100 per day, subject to a maximum of 14 days for each vaccination dosage|
|Raffles Health Insurance: Reimbursement of hospitalisation expenses of up to $5,000|
|Who Should Not Receive the Vaccination Yet||- Children below 12 years of age
- Persons with a severely compromised immune system
- Persons with a history of severe allergic reactions
Types of COVID-19 Vaccines in Singapore
There are currently two types of vaccine available under Singapore’s Vaccination Programme: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which are both Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.
Both vaccines have been assessed by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and they meet both safety and efficacy standards.
Both of them would require two doses, and studies are still ongoing to determine whether a booster is required in the future.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has also approved Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine under the Special Access Route (SAR).
This is because for vaccines to be under the national vaccination programme, vaccines must meet safety and efficacy standards, and the Sinovac vaccine is still awaiting evaluation.
Sinovac is a non-mRNA vaccine and uses an inactivated form of the coronavirus to teach the body how to protect itself from COVID-19 instead.
Sinovac will also not be part of the national programme.
Therefore, those who choose to receive it will not be eligible for the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP).
Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should I Choose: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Sinovac?
If you’re wondering which jab to choose, here are some key differences between the three vaccines.
|Vaccine Type||Messenger RNA (mRNA)||Messenger RNA (mRNA)||Non-Messenger RNA (Non-mRNA)|
100% for prevention in severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation in studied population
|Number of doses||2||2||2|
|Time between doses||21 days||28 days||2 to 4 weeks|
|Dosage||0.3mL per dose||0.5mL per dose||0.5mL per dose|
|Suitable For||Individuals aged 12 and above|
No severely weakened immune system
|Individuals aged 18 and above|
No severely weakened immune system
|Individuals aged 18 and above
Individuals who are not able to take mRNA vaccines due to anaphylaxis
|How it works||mRNA vaccines teach your cells how to make a protein (spike protein) that triggers an immune response inside our bodies||Contains inactivated virus that teaches your immune system to make antibodies against Covid-19|
|Cost||Free for Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore under Singapore's COVID-19 Vaccination Programme||$10 to $25 per dose|
|Available at||Vaccination centres islandwide||24 private clinics|
Between Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the efficacy of the two vaccines is about the same, there is not much difference in terms of the effectiveness of the vaccines.
The difference in dosage and time gap is for practical reasons.
I mean, it’s another question if you’re choosing whether to invest in either of these vaccine companies…
How Much Does a COVID-19 Vaccine Cost?
Based on the supply deal that Singapore has with the United States, one Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine costs about US$39 (S$52) for a two-dose course.
While we usually have to pay for our vaccinations, fortunately for us, the COVID-19 vaccination will be free for Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore.
For the Sinovac vaccine, fees will range from $10 to $25 for a single dose.
This will be for the vaccination administration fees which includes consultation, administration and GST.
What Are Some Possible Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Similar to other vaccines, there is a possibility of suffering from side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
This is our immune response to the vaccine, which is in no way a bad sign as it is common for our body to react to the vaccine.
Some commonly seen side effects would include:
|Side Effects||How to Manage|
|Pain, redness, swelling at the injection site||Paracetamol 1 to 2 tablets every 6 hours as needed|
|Headache, muscle pain, joint pain|
|Lymph node swelling at neck or arms||Usually gets better by itself in a week or so|
Source: Ministry of Health
With Moderna’s dosage being slightly higher, common side effects might be a little more common according to phase 3 trial data.
However, do note that this is still not entirely proven as well.
Though rarely encountered, the vaccine can cause a severe allergic reaction.
Symptoms can include:
|Side Effects from Severe Allergic Reaction|
|Swelling of face, throat, eyes or lips|
|Dizziness and weakness|
If that happens, do seek medical attention immediately by calling 995 or go to the nearest A&E.
After vaccination, it is advised for individuals to remain at the clinic for 30 minutes for observation.
This is to allow any possible complications to be detected and treated in a timely manner by healthcare professionals.
How Safe Is the COVID-19 Vaccine?
As mentioned above, the vaccines available in Singapore have been assessed by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and they meet safety and efficacy standards.
This includes a review by the Expert Committee who considered four key criteria – vaccine safety, vaccine efficacy, vaccine tolerability, and data adequacy of clinical trials.
In which both vaccines demonstrated a high vaccine efficacy of 95%, congruent with the high standards set for other types of registered vaccines.
As with other types of vaccination, there are common side effects such as pain, redness and swelling at the injection area.
While serious side effects are rare, there have been three reported cases of anaphylaxis (rapid onset of severe allergic reactions) in Singapore.
The incidence rate of anaphylaxis locally is currently about 2.7 per 100,000 doses administered.
Nevertheless, precautionary measures have been put in place to ensure a timely response, including pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination observation.
Further review is still being conducted for areas such as longer-term rare adverse effects.
Should I Still Take the COVID-19 Vaccine Since People Are Getting Infected After Vaccination?
The COVID-19 vaccines are 95% effective for the majority who have been vaccinated.
This means that while there might still be a small chance of getting infected, the risk is greatly reduced.
In addition, vaccination also reduces the symptoms of the disease.
Taking the vaccine is not just about not falling sick from COVID-19, but is also about preventing severe forms which require oxygen or intensive care.
Currently, the benefits of getting vaccinated to protect against COVID-19 far outweighs the risks of adverse side effects that are associated with this vaccination.
Therefore, getting the vaccination is still highly recommended.
As more people get vaccinated, the overall transmission will also be reduced.
However, vaccine safety and efficacy for these specific sub-groups are still being studied:
- Children below 12 years of age
- Persons with a severely compromised immune system
- Persons with a history of severe allergic reactions
Therefore, for all others, it is still advised to receive the vaccination to allow a high level of popular coverage as the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 disease will be greatly reduced.
This would also indirectly reduce the risk among these people who are currently unable to receive the vaccination.
When Can I Take My Vaccination?
Here’s a quick summary of the vaccine schedule:
|Age Group||Vaccination Period|
|Anyone above 60 years old||Can now walk in to any vaccination centre to get vaccinated
No registration or pre-booking required
|40 to 60 years old||Ongoing|
|Students (Above 12 years old)||Registration starts from 1 Jun 2021
Children who turn 12 this year must have crossed their birthday before they can book an appointment
Priority will be given to the secondary and pre-U (O- and A-Levels) graduating cohorts, as well as Special Education students
|Adults (Aged 39 and below)||Registration starts from 11 Jun 2021 onwards|
Those eligible can register online.
After registration, registrants will be progressively invited to book their vaccination appointments via an SMS. Registrants can expect to receive the SMS a few days after registration, but it may take up to two weeks for some.
How Do I Improve the Vaccine’s Efficacy?
Here are three main things to take note of to improve the vaccine’s efficacy:
- Doing regular exercise
- Having a balanced diet
- Getting sufficient sleep
A night of good sleep the day before can really help to boost one’s immunity.
Perhaps this would be the motivation for us sleep-deprived folks to get some good night’s sleep.
Activities To Avoid After Vaccination
It is advised for individuals to stop strenuous physical activities for 7 days after receiving the first and second jab.
Some activities to avoid:
- Running or jogging
- Lifting heavy weights
- Competitive sports or physical education
- Playing ball/racket games
If you wish to work out, here are some safe activities:
- Stretching or working while standing
- Casual walking
Types of Financial Assistance Available for COVID-19 Vaccine Complications
For those who are concerned about the financial costs that arising from medical expenses due to complications from the COVID-19 vaccine, there are a few financial schemes that are available to help alleviate these worries.
- Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP)
Medishield Life and Integrated Shield Plans Coverage
- Free Insurance Coverage from Insurance Companies
Financial Aid By Government: Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP)
A financial assistance programme has been rolled out to offer payouts to individuals who are suffering from serious side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
Known as the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP), this programme will offer payouts to those who require a higher level of medical care, or suffer permanent severe disability or died as a result of the vaccination.
The amount of payout is as follows:
|- Inpatient hospitalisation and medical intervention required||One-time payout of $2,000|
|- Experienced medically significant serious side effects|
- Hospitalised and require care in the high-dependency or intensive care unit
- Subsequently recovered
|One-time payout of $10,000|
|- Permanent severe disability|
|One-time payout of $225,000|
How To Qualify for the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP)
To qualify for this financial assistance programme, the recipient must:
- Be a Singapore Citizen, permanent resident or long-term pass holder who took the vaccine in Singapore
- Experienced a serious side effect that is potentially life-threatening or fatal, and had required inpatient hospitalisation, or
- Caused persistent incapacity or disability
The side effects have to be assessed by a doctor associated with the individual’s vaccination.
The MOH has also appointed an independent clinical panel to assess applications for this programme, as the assessment of the effects by different doctors might differ.
Medishield Life and Integrated Shield Plans Coverage for COVID-19 Complications
To ensure that all individuals can have peace of mind while getting vaccinated, hospitalisation costs due to adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccination will also be covered by MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans.
This applies to all seven insurers who are offering Integrated Shield Plans.
The insurers include NTUC Income, AIA, Great Eastern, Aviva, Prudential, AXA and Raffles Health.
This coverage will be provided until 31 Dec 2021, with a possible extension depending on the development of the situation.
These subsidies can be concurrently received by those under the VIFAP.
Free Insurance Coverage from Insurers and Financial Institutions
On top of government schemes, insurers and financial institutions are also providing free COVID-19 vaccine insurance, providing coverage and payouts due to vaccine complications.
Eligible individuals will be able to receive benefits such as daily hospital income benefit or lump sum payouts depending on the coverage.
Do apply for these policies early as some of them do have a cap on the number of policies distributed.