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40 NCID staff first in Singapore to get Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

40 NCID staff first in Singapore to get Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Dr Kalisvar Marimuthu has been priming his loved ones over the last three months for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Singapore's first and only approved COVID-19 vaccine.

And yesterday, his anticipation of the momentous event came to fruition when the 43-year-old senior consultant at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) rolled up his sleeve as the second Singaporean to receive the jab, at NCID's Day Treatment Centre.

"I'm feeling good and lucky... feeling a bit emotional because the vaccine is potentially a game changer," Dr Kalisvar, who manages suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, told reporters after his injection.

"It has been a long journey for us to reach here, it has been tough for all of us... Vaccines have brought pandemics to their knees in the past," he said, adding that he hoped history would repeat itself.

The nation kick-started its national COVID-19 vaccination programme with 40 staff from NCID getting the jab by the end of yesterday, including Professor Leo Yee Sin, the centre's executive director.

Each vaccination process took around three minutes and patients were monitored for 30 minutes afterwards to ensure that they tolerated it well.

The remaining NCID staff will be progressively vaccinated, with the rest of the National Healthcare Group management and staff from next month.

Dr Kalisvar, who read the regulatory reports and attended the town halls at hospitals on the vaccine, is confident of the product, about which he said patients had many questions.

"I think it is only reasonable that they feel concerned," he said. "Because it is such an important vaccine, even small problems may be highlighted a lot in the news.

"As a doctor, it is my job to alleviate some of these concerns that patients have. And these are real concerns."

Transient effects of the vaccination can be alleviated, he said, for instance by taking a Panadol for any pain that might follow the jab.

In fact, pain is something which people should feel as it shows that the body is reacting to the vaccine, he added.

Dr Kalisvar also addressed concerns about reported anaphylaxis reaction to the vaccines.

"It's so rare and I know that anaphylaxis is easily treatable with an injection. I know they're going to monitor me after the vaccination, because usually anaphylaxis happens immediately after the vaccination," he added.

First to get the jab was NCID senior staff nurse Sarah Lim, 46, whose job is to screen suspected COVID-19 cases. She said the injection was like an ant bite.

"I am feeling fine...," she told reporters. "I feel grateful and thankful for being the first to be vaccinated. I would encourage (others) to go for it."

She added in Mandarin: "I wanted to take the injection to protect myself, my loved ones, (my) patients and the public."

The injection was given at 9.24am by senior staff nurse Kho Wei Lian, 26. It was removed from the fridge at NCID at 8.30am - according to a note on the wall - and delivered about 45 minutes later.

The vaccine needs to be at room temperature for 30 minutes before it is diluted. Only a small volume, or just 0.3ml, is injected. The vaccine vial, once opened, must be used within six hours.

Third in line to get vaccinated was senior staff nurse Mohamed Firdaus Mohamed Salleh, 38.

The vaccine will give him confidence when he carries out his duties, said Mr Firdaus who works in the intensive care unit looking after COVID-19 patients.

"This also gives me the assurance that I can go home safely to my kids," said the father of four.

He did not experience any side effects, and commended the efficient and smooth workflow.

The vaccine requires two injections, given 21 days apart. Those who got their shots yesterday will return for a second dose on Jan 20.

Read the full article here.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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