Editor’s note, Feb. 19, 7:05pm: An earlier version of this article reported inaccurately that the 72-year-old man has died after vaccination. The man, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the same day after vaccination, is now in ICU. The article has been corrected. We sincerely apologise for the error and the stress that it may have caused our readers.
A 72-year-old Singaporean man who received his first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Feb. 16 suffered a cardiac arrest on the same night.
The man was vaccinated on Tuesday morning, Feb. 16, and was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) after suffering cardiac arrest on the same night, the Ministry of Health announced on Feb. 18.
The man, who has a history of cancer, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, had been assessed by trained healthcare personnel to be suitable for Covid-19 vaccination prior to vaccination.
Continue monitoring vaccinated patients
At a media doorstop on Feb. 19 at Jalan Besar Community Centre, Minister for Health and co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce Gan Kim Yong addressed concerns which might arise from this incident.
Gan reiterated that initial assessments showed that man's cardiac arrest was unrelated to the vaccination.
However, he assured that steps were being taken to continue monitoring and collecting data on vaccinated patients.
This is ensure there are no adverse effects post-vaccination.
"We do want to know about it, so we can collect the data and refine our criteria for vaccinations," he said.
Gan added that they would monitor data "not only locally, but internationally" as well, so that vaccinations remain safe for people.
Gan also highlighted the precautions currently in place for patients — every person who takes the vaccination will be required to go through several thorough questionnaires on their wellbeing and a 30-minute post-vaccination observation period.
Advice is also given to those who might experience any reaction to the vaccine.
Once again, Gan emphasised the severity of such incidents:
"I want to assure Singaporeans that we do take this very seriously, whether they're related to the vaccination or not, we want to know if there are any such incidents so that we can investigate in depth and better understand the situation.
And our criteria and processes will continue to be refined to ensure it can remain safe for anyone who wants to be vaccinated."
Making vaccinations available for more people
Vaccinations for seniors aged 70 and above in Singapore will start on Feb. 22.
Gan added that invitations letters to those aged between 60 and 69 would be sent out by the middle of March.
Following this, vaccination slots will be opened to more groups of people, and the general public might be able to get their shots "probably some time after April".
Top photo by Kayla Wong and MCI