SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): He keeps a busy schedule and had just returned from a business trip to India, but on Thursday (June 23), Ivan Lim was at the new Covid-19 joint testing and vaccination centre in Bukit Merah.
He had turned up for his second booster shot.
The 65-year-old director of a logistics company was among a number of seniors who streamed in to the centre in Lower Delta Road - one of five new vaccination centres which opened on Thursday.
"I travel quite often for work, and with cases increasing and the possibility of a new Covid-19 wave, it is necessary to take the booster," said Lim, adding that he was in the area.
The new centres, located in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun, will offer mRNA vaccines.
This brings the total to 10 joint testing and vaccination centre across Singapore.
Those aged 50 and above can walk in to any vaccination centre for a second booster shot.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) website, the centres can also conduct antigen rapid tests and polymerase chain reaction tests.
They are also designed so that operations can be scaled up if new Covid-19 variants emerge.
When the Straits Times visited the vaccination centre in Bukit Merah at 2pm on Thursday, there were around 10 people in the queue. From 9am, the centre saw around 60 people, mostly elderly, walking in to get their shots.
Colour-coded signs inform people about the different services available - green for the vaccination sections and purple for the testing areas.
People receiving their shots at a Covid-19 joint testing and vaccination centre in Bukit Merah on June 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
An MOH spokesman said the two areas do not intersect, and there is no possibility of contact between the two groups of people.
A 66-year-old retiree, who wanted to be known only as Mr Fan, said he waited less than 30 minutes for his second booster jab.
"With the new variant and more people getting Covid-19, it is better to just get a jab. I am not young any more," he added.
Singapore could be hit by the next wave of the virus in July or August due to the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung earlier this month.
But MOH said 80,000 seniors aged 60 and above have yet to get their booster shots, even though this means they would be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill or dying of Covid-19.
At the Yishun vaccination centre, about 50 people turned up between 9am and 1pm to get their shots. The crowd thinned out after lunch.
Limousine taxi driver Leong Yin Wew, 65, was there for his fourth Pfizer shot.
He added that he did not experience side effects from his previous three shots.
"I read in the news that a vaccination centre was opening in Yishun and decided to listen to the advice (to get a second booster)," he said.
Meanwhile, MOH said it will be closing the vaccination centre at Raffles City Convention Centre on July 18 as it consolidates its resources.
The operating hours and locations of the 10 joint testing and vaccination centres can be found here.