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Doing Our Part: Vaccinations Begin for the Home Team’s Frontline Officers
On the scene with the first cohort of Home Team frontliners to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

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GRAPHIC: Home Team News

It’s 8AM on 11 January 2020 at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Headquarters, and Warrant Officer 1 (WO1) Mohamed Shafiee bin Jamin is excited, to say the least. A Paramedic at Kallang Fire Station, he’ll be the first Home Team officer to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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At SCDF Headquarters, ready for vaccinations to begin. PHOTOS: Soo Jun Xiang and Desmond Ang
 
“The vaccine gives me the assurance and peace of mind in safely carrying out my frontline responder duties as a Paramedic," shared the 38-year-old officer. "Taking the vaccine is not just for my personal safety, but also for the safety of the patients, my co-workers and my loved ones.” 

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In 2020, Singapore initiated a range of measures – including safe distancing, contact tracing and testing – to combat COVID-19. Now, we’re embarking on a comprehensive vaccination drive to further safeguard public health.
 
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In December 2020, the Government accepted the recommendations of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, which certified the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in persons aged 16-years-old and older in Singapore, and recommended that we achieve as high a level of vaccination coverage as possible. The first frontliners to receive vaccinations were staff of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on 30 December 2020.  

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At the medical consultation station.
 
SCDF Paramedics perform a range of essential lifesaving duties that place them at a higher risk of infection. That’s why they’ll be among the first frontline officers to receive the vaccine. “As a Paramedic, I’ve had a number of encounters with COVID-19 cases, most of which were suspected cases, with some testing positive later on,” said WO1 Shafiee. “One encounter that remains vivid in my mind was when I attended to a patient who was upset that he’d have to be away from his family for a while. We took care of his medical needs while offering a listening ear.” 

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Entering the multipurpose hall at SCDF Headquarters, we saw that it had been divided into different stations. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is kept frozen at minus 80 degrees and, once thawed, has a five-day shelf-life. We watched as the medical team prepared the vaccine, taking it out 30 minutes before vaccinations were to begin.  

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WO1 Shafiee serves as a Paramedic at Kallang Fire Station.

Meanwhile, the officers waited patiently for their turn. First in line was WO1 Shafiee. Once his name was called, he approached a medical worker who went through his declaration form with him. Then WO1 Shafiee walked over to the vaccination station where he rolled up his sleeve and received the injection. 

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The entire process took less than 10 minutes from start to finish. WO1 Shafiee smiled and made his way to the observation area where those who have received vaccinations will be monitored for 30 minutes, to see if they have had any adverse reactions. 

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WO1 Shafiee with his vaccination card.
 
For WO1 Shafiee, vaccination is very much a family affair. “Getting the vaccine means protecting not just myself and my patients, but also my family members,” he shared. “My wife is also a frontline SCDF Paramedic, and she’s scheduled to receive the vaccine later today.” 

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The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is administered in two doses that are taken 21 days apart. The Home Team is planning to complete its first round of vaccinations for over 1,050 officers involved in frontline healthcare operations within six weeks. 

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SGT3 Aerzam at the screening station.
 
The vaccinations proceeded like clockwork. Also receiving the vaccination this morning was Sergeant 3 (SGT3) Muhammad Aerzam bin Abdullah, a Fire Rescue Specialist at Kallang Fire Station who’s also cross-trained as an Emergency Medical Technician. He shared that in the early months of 2020, SCDF officers responded to emergency calls wearing enhanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that included an N95 mask and goggles. 
 
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“I remember one patient whom we attended to in May 2020,” recalled SGT3 Aerzam. “Not only did he have symptoms of COVID-19, his vital signs were worrying. We worked in full PPE to provide him with care, then conveyed him to the hospital.”

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SGT3 Aerzam with his vaccination card.
  
For Home Team officers like WO1 Shafiee and SGT3 Aerzam, getting vaccinated is simply part of their duty as lifesavers. “The injection itself felt like an ant-bite, and it was over in 10 seconds,” said SGT3 Aerzam. “Receiving a vaccination is just another way I can contribute to Singapore’s safety and security.”


Start of Vaccination Exercise for Home Team Healthcare Frontliners
The Ministry of Home Affairs started the vaccination exercise for Home Team officers involved in frontline healthcare operations on 11 January 2021. 80 officers will receive the vaccination today, and about 1,050 officers will be progressively vaccinated over the coming weeks. Click here to learn more about the vaccination exercise. 

Saluting Our Home Team Officers
Click here to learn how Home Team officers have supported COVID-19 operations.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 11 January 2021
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