Doctors at Osler Health International discuss COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore and the latest travel requirement for Pre-Departure Testing and Health Certificates
Dreaming of a holiday or travelling abroad? Us too. If you’ve got questions about the vaccine and what it means for future travel, we’ve got you covered. The doctors at Osler Health International, a new international GP doctor’s clinic, unpack the current travel situation (it’s not so simple) and answer key questions on the COVID-19 vaccine.
What are the current requirements to travel?
The answer to this is based upon both the airline you’re travelling with, and the immigration requirements of your destination country. Sorry, no simple one word answer here. Many countries and regions will require travellers to take a COVID-19 Pre-Departure Test (PDT) and present a valid negative test result before the traveller is allowed to transit or enter. The test certificate must be produced by a clinic, hospital or testing centre recognised by the authorities.
How soon before you fly would you need the PDT?
Travellers should allocate adequate time to undergo the test and receive the results before departure from Singapore. The timeframe is usually 48 to 72 hours before a flight. Also, it’s worth noting that countries requiring a PDT usually only accept a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, with some countries specifying the particular type of PCR test needed. Travellers are responsible for ensuring that the test conducted by test providers meets the testing requirements of the destination country/ region. As entry requirements may change at short notice, always check the latest travel advisories for your destination.
How do you get a PDT?
You need to go to a Ministry of Health (MOH) approved COVID-19 test provider. Osler Health International is an approved COVID-19 test provider, and the full list is on the MOH website.
How do you get the test results?
MOH has mandated that all the approved COVID-19 test providers must issue PDT certificates in the digital format, following Singapore’s HealthCerts standards. This provides travellers with verifiable digital (and tamper proof) travel credentials for a smoother travel/immigration process. Osler Health has the HealthCert capabilities to issue the digital test certificate to individual travellers through their ‘Fit-to-Fly’ service.
What about coming back into Singapore?
All travellers (who are not Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) will be required to present a valid negative COVID-19 test result as a condition of entry into Singapore. All inbound travellers (regardless of nationality) will require a clearance COVID-19 test at the end of their Stay-Home Notice (SHN) period.
Children aged 6 and below (in that calendar year) are not required to undergo a COVID-19 test when entering Singapore or before the end of their SHN. However, if they meet the suspect criteria for COVID-19 or are exposed to other persons who have COVID-19 during travel, they would be required to undergo testing.
Do you still need the PDT if you have had the vaccine?
Yes. MOH is actively monitoring the vaccine situation, including studies on the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing transmission risk. As these studies are currently ongoing, all travellers, including those who have undergone vaccination, will continue to be subject to prevailing border measures. These requirements will be reviewed as more information on vaccine effectiveness becomes available.
When will we be getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been rolled out in Singapore. A large number of healthcare workers and frontline workers have already completed their vaccinations, and the elderly are currently being vaccinated. No one knows when the rest of the population will receive the vaccine, but it is expected that the majority of people living in Singapore will be vaccinated by Q3 this year. This is largely dependent upon the supply chain.
Who is the COVID-19 vaccine free for?
The government is making the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to all Singaporeans and long-term residents. This includes everyone – Singaporeans, employment/work pass holders and their dependents, domestic workers, foreign workers. Pretty much everyone except visitors.
Which COVID-19 vaccine is being used in Singapore?
To date, only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is being used. However, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has just been authorised for use in Singapore and the first shipment is expected to arrive in March 2021.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine against all the strains of COVID-19?
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been shown to have 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. The Moderna vaccine also has a high efficacy of 94%.
How quickly will the COVID-19 vaccine become effective?
The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses to offer the full benefit of 95% immunity. The two doses are given three weeks apart. There will be about 50% immunity after the first dose. The second COVID-19 vaccine dose further boosts the immune response to ensure that the protection lasts as long as possible (around 12-18 months or maybe even longer).
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?
In Singapore, the vaccine is currently licensed for people above the age of 16, so children (at this stage) will not be vaccinated. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will only be available for individuals aged 18 years and above.
I am pregnant – is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for me to take?
The COVID-19 vaccine is not licensed for pregnant women or women who are breast-feeding. If you are thinking of starting a family it is worth noting that you will need to wait a month after the vaccine to conceive safely. If you do intend to take the vaccine and you are breastfeeding, current advice is to stop breastfeeding for 5 to 7 days after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Whether you have more questions about the different COVID-19 vaccines or whether you need to get COVID-19 tested to fly, Osler Health International doctors aim to offer you the most recent no-nonsense information, as well as trusted medical care – all with compassion. As a smaller clinic, they offer a personalised service, where the team of trusted and experienced doctors work together, to give patients the best care. If you have a question not answered – reach out to them for more info.
Osler Health International:
Business Operating Hours: 8.30am – 5.30pm Mon – Fri, 8.30am – 1pm Saturday
– Raffles Hotel Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road, #02-34 Raffles Hotel Arcade, Singapore 188719, Tel: (+65) 6332 2727, [email protected]
– Star Vista (opening in March)