Singapore’s vaccination campaign has gone into overdrive, with the goal of fully vaccinating at least 67% of the population by National Day. Almost 80,000 doses are now being administered each day, nearly double the rate from last month. I personally got my second jab in early July, and will be fully vaccinated by the end of this week.
Even with the latest KTV-related setbacks, it’s only a matter of time before restrictions on social gatherings and travel are loosened for vaccinated individuals. In other words, you really want the vaccination badge showing up in your TraceTogether app sooner rather than later.
But what happens if you received your vaccination overseas? Can you get it recognised in Singapore?
Recognition of overseas vaccinations in Singapore
Some Singapore residents may have received their COVID-19 vaccination overseas, either because they returned to Singapore recently, or travelled overseas to get vaccinated before Singapore began its rollout.
Last week, the MOH announced that Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who received COVID-19 vaccinations overseas can update their vaccination records here.
To do so, they must have received either the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines, or vaccines on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL). Vaccines like COVAXIN and Sputnik V are not yet on this list, and hence will not be recognised in Singapore.
|💉 WHO EUL List
|*Includes Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
Individuals will need to provide documentation proving their overseas vaccination, and undergo a serology test. The serology test provides an additional means to validate the vaccination status, and can be done at one of the following private healthcare providers in Singapore:
Fees are set by individual clinics, and will not be subsidised by the government.
Should the serology test be positive, the individual’s vaccination records will be updated on the HealthHub portal. Reflection of vaccination status in TraceTogether will be available by late August 2021.
To be clear, an overseas vaccination certificate on its own will not be sufficient for recognition in Singapore.
What about differentiated measures?
All the talk of late has been about “differentiated measures”, or special treatment for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. For example, the current dine-in restrictions have reverted to groups of two, although fully vaccinated individuals can dine in groups of up to five.
The question is whether those who received COVID-19 vaccinations overseas will enjoy similar concessions. MOH states the following:
The current initiative is to facilitate the ingestion of overseas COVID-19 vaccination records for SCs/PRs/LTPHs into the local IT systems as long as they have documentation to show proof of vaccination and their serology test results are positive.
Relating to the differentiated measures which would be introduced later for people who have been vaccinated (whether administered locally or overseas), this is currently being looked into by the MOH. More details will be announced at a later date.
If you got a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, you’re fine. MOH has stated elsewhere that individuals with these vaccinations will be eligible for vaccine-differentiated SMMs. However, those who received Sinovac, Janssen, AstraZeneca or other jabs not approved under the PSAR will not be eligible:
Individuals who have only received vaccines that have not been approved under the Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR) such as Sinovac are not eligible for vaccine-differentiated SMMs. This is because there is insufficient data on the extent of the protective effect of Sinovac vaccination.
I do wonder how this will change when Singapore reopens its borders to tourists, though. There will no doubt be a sizeable number of would-be visitors with vaccines from Sinovac, Janssen, AstraZeneca etc., and they’re unlikely to come if they’ll face significant restrictions in terms of what they can and can’t do. As it is, we’re already seeing disagreements over Sinovac being one of the many barriers to (re)starting the Hong Kong ATB.
My guess is the government wants to nudge as many people as possible to take the Pfizer or Moderna shots, before eventually recognizing more vaccinations at a later stage when enough of the resident population has high-quality protection.
As I outlined in this post, I’m cautiously optimistic about the prospect of leisure travel in Q4 should we hit the 67% fully vaccinated target.
Every little bit counts, so if you got your vaccination overseas, you can add to the figure by getting it recognised within the Singapore system.