Singapore, concerned with a high level of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths, has warned that unvaccinated public officers will be placed on unpaid leave if they avoided the nation-wide vaccination exercise despite being medically eligible. The city-state on Wednesday reported 3,635 new cases of COVID-19, including 409 residents from the dormitories for migrant workers, and 12 deaths due to complications from the disease.
The Ministry of Health had announced on October 23 that only fully vaccinated employees, or those who recovered from COVID-19 within the past 270 days, will be allowed to return to workplaces from January 1, 2022. A Public Service Division (PSD) spokesperson, responding to the Health Ministry’s October 23 announcement, said that from January 1, it “will do its best” to allow unvaccinated officers to work from home if the job allows.
But those who choose to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, despite being medically eligible, may be placed on unpaid leave as a last resort, the Channel News Asia reported on Thursday, citing the PSD.
“If an officer chooses not to be vaccinated even though he is medically eligible for vaccination, and if he cannot be redeployed, we may place the person on no-pay leave as a last resort or allow the contract to lapse with no further renewal,” the Channel quoted PSD spokesperson as saying. Other options would be considered first.
These unvaccinated officers may otherwise be redeployed to other work that can be performed from home, if such jobs are available, with remuneration “commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs”, the official said. About 98 per cent of the 153,000 people employed across 16 ministries and more than 50 statutory boards.
The PSD said it will “strongly encourage” the remaining 2 per cent, comprising about 3,000 officers, to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. Only a “small proportion” are medically ineligible for the mRNA vaccines, PSD said, referring to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
These officers should get vaccinated with a non-mRNA vaccine under the national vaccination programme, which now offers Sinovac, it said.
The 12 COVID-linked fatalities reported on Wednesday were aged between 59 and 99, said the Ministry of Health (MOH), stressing that people aged 60 and above continue to be “more adversely affected by COVID-19”, especially if they are not vaccinated.