[COVIDWatch]: Are migrant workers considered fully vaccinated after only one dose?

By October 20, 2021 COVID-19, Health

We came across this message on Telegram:

We read in the message that someone had allegedly spoken to a Bangladeshi migrant worker who said that he and other workers had only received one dose of the vaccine, but were given the “fully vaccinated” status on their TraceTogether app. According to the worker, “this was what the govt told them to do”, and only those who contracted COVID-19 were given two doses of the vaccine.

The author of the message then goes on to question why Singaporeans “need to take double jab and boosters”, and theorises that this is because the government “[doesn’t] want to have adverse effects resulting in illness”.

There is no context given as to who the author of the message is, or when the exchange took place.

Vaccination of migrant workers in Singapore

On 27 July, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong revealed in Parliament that vaccination rates among migrant workers in Singapore are “very high and [are] getting higher”, and that the government was looking at easing safety measures for these workers. He was speaking in response to queries by several Members of Parliament about the well-being of workers.

He did not provide a figure on the vaccination rate of these migrant workers, but the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had said earlier on 8 June that about a fifth of migrant workers (around 55,000 workers) have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of 31 May. Then, it was also revealed that another 67,000 of these workers have been vaccinated with one dose, with their second dose scheduled to be administered six to eight weeks from the first dose.

Just like for Singaporeans, vaccination is also on a voluntary basis for migrant workers, with employers being asked to encourage eligible workers to get themselves vaccinated. Vaccination is provided free to all Work Permit (including FDWs), S Pass, EP, LTVP and Dependant’s Pass holders.

One or two doses?

Going back to the claims being made, we see that the author stated that according to the worker:

  1. Only those who were infected with COVID-19 received two jabs of the vaccine
  2. The others only received one dose of the vaccine

The important thing to note is that neither of the claims coincide with the conditions required for an individuals in Singapore to be considered “fully vaccinated”.

According to advisories we’re seen by MOH and ICA, individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated only:

  1. If they have received the appropriate regimen of World Health Organisation Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL) vaccines (e.g. PfizerBioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna, AstraZeneca-SKBio, Serum Institute of India, Janssen, Sinopharm, Sinovac-CoronaVac) including their respective duration post-vaccination for the vaccine to be fully effective or;
  2. If previously unvaccinated, individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 will need to take a single dose of any WHO EUL vaccine after a minimum of 28 days from diagnosis of COVID-19 infection. They will then be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the single dose is taken

Thus, to be fully vaccinated and to have that status reflected on their TraceTogether app, these workers need to either have had completed the full regimen of a vaccine OR completed one dose if they’ve contracted COVID-19 before – neither of which seem to be the situation reported by the worker that the author of the message spoke to.

It is also important to note that while the migrant worker in question singled out those who have gotten two doses and were infected, he did not specify if those who received one dose were, at any point, infected too.

Therefore, given the lack of information we have regarding the COVID-19 infection status of the migrant worker in question, it is unproven that this particular migrant worker and his peers are considered fully vaccinated after only one dose of the vaccine.

However, it is also inaccurate for the author of the message to insinuate that this incident is evidence that the government is practicing double standards when it comes to the administration of vaccines between Singaporeans and migrant workers.

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