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Parents encouraged to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments instead of walking in, to minimise waiting time

LaksaNews

Myth
Member
SINGAPORE: Planning to take your child for their first COVID-19 jab? Parents are encouraged to make appointments instead of walking in, said vaccination centres on Friday (Jan 28), adding that it would help to minimise waiting time

Both Raffles Medical and Fullerton Health, which run vaccination centres that serve children across Singapore, confirmed that they have seen increased interest in walk-ins for the COVID-19 jab.

From Jan 25, parents and guardians of children aged five to 11 have been able to walk into any paediatric vaccination centre for their child's first COVID-19 shot. No prior appointment is needed provided the walk-in is done from Mondays to Thursdays.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said more than 5,600 children walked in with their parents from Monday to Thursday this week to get jabbed.

“Many parents have also welcomed the move to allow them to bring their children for vaccination without needing to piggy-back on their siblings’ appointments,” he wrote.

Walk-ins have been accepted for all accompanying siblings of a child with a prior COVID-19 vaccination appointment from Mondays to Thursdays since Jan 10.

Fullerton Health’s paediatric vaccination centres have seen “initial interest” in walk-ins now that they are allowed, and this is within the centres operating capacities, said its spokesperson.

“Although walk-ins are allowed, we strongly encourage members of public to make an appointment before coming down,” the spokesperson said, noting that the average waiting time for those with appointments is below an hour, including the 30-minute observation period after the jab.

Raffles Medical also confirmed that it has seen an increased number of walk-ins by parents of children aged five to 11.

“While we do not turn away walk-in requests, appointments are encouraged to minimise waiting time. We have made the necessary manpower adjustments to meet the demand and address waiting time for everyone,” said its spokesperson.

While waiting time varies across centres and timings, parents should avoid peak periods like early morning and mealtimes to minimise waiting, the spokesperson said.

“To better manage expectations, our team would always advise members of the public the expected waiting time and suggest alternatives such as return during non-peak hours or book an appointment for another date.”

Mr Ho Ken Weng, who walked in with his eight-year-old daughter at Queenstown Community Centre on Thursday evening, ended up leaving only two hours later.

He arrived at around 6.15pm after picking his daughter up from school. They had already booked an appointment for her vaccination at Nanyang Community Centre, but chose to walk in at the Raffles Medical vaccination centre at Queenstown because it was the closest one to their home, he told CNA.

“We tried our luck, by the time we reach there, (there were) long queues,” said Mr Ho, adding that there were at least 20 to 30 people ahead of him.

After standing in the queue for about 45 minutes, he and his wife realised that they were queueing to enter the waiting area, where they could go through the necessary health checks for their daughter and sit while waiting for their turn.

“You have to queue, then you have to take your weight, then after that you have to sit at the waiting area and wait for them to call you for the jab,” he said.

“There is a signboard telling us you need to wait 90 minutes, and after that they changed it to 120 minutes.”

Meanwhile, parents who had made appointments did not need to queue at all. All of them were ushered into the waiting area after arriving.

Mr Ho and his wife decided to stick with their decision after running into their daughter’s classmate at the centre, as they could wait together. They waited for another 45 minutes before their daughter’s name was called.

They finally left Queenstown Community Centre at about 8.15pm, including the 30-minute observation period.

Adding that he did not expect to see such long queues, Mr Ho recalled that his own vaccination experience was very fast and smooth, with little to no crowds.

“Maybe because of the booking of the appointments, it was really well-planned. For this time, so many kids running here and there, it was the first time, a bit shocked,” he added, stressing that there were staff members present to maintain safe management measures.

Some parents have asked if the walk-in arrangement can be extended to Fridays and weekends, said Mr Chan in his post on Friday.

“Unfortunately, this is still not quite possible as appointment bookings are full to the brim on those days. But we will continue to monitor the booking patterns. When we are able to clear more of our children in the coming weeks, we will work with (the) Ministry of Health to make things even more convenient for families,” he wrote.

Those who plan to walk in at the centres with their children on Jan 31 should do so by 1pm, as the centres will close earlier on the eve of Chinese New Year. They will also be closed on Feb 1 and 2 for the public holidays, he noted.

So far, 175,000 children have received their first dose, and more than 25,000 have received both doses, said the Education Minister.

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