Fear of complications or side effects main reason some seniors in Singapore spurn Covid-19 vaccine


SINGAPORE - Retiree Tan Kian Boon, 69, is more afraid of dying from potential complications of the Covid-19 vaccine than of catching the coronavirus itself.

He thinks it is unlikely he would get infected as he wears a mask when he goes out. Though he is not vaccinated, he is considering the Sinovac vaccine, which he feels is more reliable since it was developed using traditional methods.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that are currently available under Singapore’s national vaccination programme are based on mRNA technology, which has not been used in vaccines before now.

Mr Tan said in Mandarin: “We don’t actually need a vaccine to defeat the virus. Our bodies can recover by themselves. We just need to exercise, get some sun and adjust our diets.”

Mr Peh Leong Kok, too, is afraid of dying after getting vaccinated.

The retired restaurant worker remembers reading that a senior citizen died after he was vaccinated, though he does not remember any other detail.

Also, Mr Peh, 82, had surgery for a chronic digestive disease a few years ago, and suffers from high blood pressure and other ailments, so he is afraid of running into more problems because of the vaccine.

Fear of complications or side effects from the vaccine is the key reason stopping seniors from getting vaccinated, The Straits Times found, in speaking to 35 seniors on Friday (June 25). Of those, seven were yet to be vaccinated.

On Thursday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said about 75 per cent of people aged 60 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine, but that this was “not enough”.

The task force tackling the pandemic said seniors should protect themselves through vaccination as they are most vulnerable to the disease and face a higher risk of severe illness. Their risk will increase once safe distancing measures are gradually eased, said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong.