Whether you have just relocated with your family to Singapore, or you are already familiar with the place, the idea of getting a vaccination in a country that is not your home is always going to be a slightly daunting concept. Furthermore, while vaccination programmes in your hometown may have been included as part of a government scheme and would have probably cost you next to nothing, things may be a little more pricey when you’re living overseas.
Fortunately, it is often the case that vaccinations are included in most comprehensive insurance policies so you can focus on the health of your family and not on how much it is going to cost you to do so.
Vaccination Coverage in Singapore
The price of vaccinations in Singapore varies depending on whether you choose to visit a public or private health clinic and depending on the actual clinic itself. Private clinics can charge around SGD $60 for just their consultation services alone, then there’s the tax and the cost of the vaccination itself and so an appointment to receive a single injection can end up totaling between SGD $300 - $400.
A comprehensive insurance plan that includes outpatient care will typically offer basic coverage for check-ups and vaccinations in Singapore. However, there are also more flexible plans available which you could tailor to your personal needs to provide greater benefits for your children rather than the adults in your family. Not only would this ensure your children are covered should a worst case scenario occur, but it may also help you to save on your overall premiums without compromising your coverage.
While not every parent may agree with vaccinating their children, it is often the case for most international schools in Singapore that they require all students to have all their vaccinations fully updated before attending. In light of this, below is a list of the recommended list of vaccinations for residents of Singapore.
Recommended Vaccinations for Living in Singapore
With its ability to spread quickly, Chickenpox is one one of the most common childhood diseases. Also known as the varicella zoster virus, it initially causes a number of itchy spots to break out on the skin which eventually form fluid filled blisters before healing over.
Chickenpox can become serious in young infants and the elderly but it is typically a mild virus that, if caught as a child, will usually lead to immunity from the virus in adult life.
The Chickenpox vaccination is recommended for all children and adults who have not yet had the virus. However, it should be noted that it is still possible to catch Chickenpox despite having received a vaccination.
As the vaccine essentially injects the body with an active virus agent, it can in fact cause some minor symptoms and should therefore be avoided by pregnant women (who have never experienced the condition themselves) or by those with a weak immune system. One vaccination dose is required for children aged between 1-12 years and 2 doses from age 13 onwards.
Although regularly compared to the common cold, the influenza virus (or flu for short) causes more severe symptoms and takes longer for the body to recover from. Influenza is easily spread from an infected person by sneezing, coughing, nasal secretions and from small droplets of fluid traveling in the air or left on hard surfaces.
As there are a number of different types of influenza viruses, the strains of vaccines are constantly being modified and therefore an annual vaccination is highly recommended.
For children who have never received a vaccination, two doses within 4 weeks will be prescribed. Adults of all ages are advised to go for an annual vaccination, especially before the winter months when the influenza virus is especially rife.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Although not widespread in Singapore, Hepatitis A remains to be a serious disease which causes severe liver infection. The virus can either be spread via the consumption of food/water that has been contaminated or by close contact in closed environments.
The Hepatitis A vaccination provides an individual with immunity from the disease for between 10-20 years and requires 2 doses prescribed 6 months apart. The hepatitis A vaccination is not compulsory for children in Singapore to receive but is typically suggested for frequent travellers, especially those who plan on traveling to high risk countries or for those with liver disease.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Similar to Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B causes liver disease and is mainly transmitted through bodily fluids. Infections can also occur through mother to baby infection, blood transfusions and if a non-sterile instrument is used for procedures such as tattooing, piercing, dental treatment and acupuncture.
The majority of Hepatitis B infections are acquired during birth and as an infection at this time typically does not manifest in any symptoms, an infected baby has a 90% chance of carrying the disease into their adult lives.
Doctors in Singapore therefore typically recommend administering the Hepatitis B vaccination to babies and will prescribe the first dose at birth with another 2 doses over the next 6 months. For adults who have not been vaccinated, a pre-vaccination screening is compulsory before a course of three doses over 6 months can be administered.
Alternatively, it is possible to receive a combined Hepatitis A & B vaccine to be immunized against both viruses.
Although rare, Tetanus is a serious infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium Tetani. The bacteria typically thrive in animal or human waste, soil and house dust and usually find their way into the body via a wound or major burn.
The Tetanus vaccine is typically administered as part of a country’s childhood vaccination programme and totals a course of 5 doses, eventually leading to lifelong immunity against the disease. A child should receive the first three dose within their first 4 months, followed by a booster at around the 4 year mark and a final teenage booster for children aged 13-18.
Infants will typically receive their tetanus vaccinations either as part of a DPT vaccine (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus) or as part of the 5-in-1 vaccine (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio and Hib).
For adults who are unsure of their medical history, or who haven’t had the vaccine in the last 10 years and will be traveling to remote areas with limited access to medical care, a vaccination is also recommended.
Typhoid fever is caused by a bacterial infection which, without prompt treatment, can cause severe symptoms and even become fatal. A highly contagious disease, Typhoid is spread via food and water that has become contaminated with the bacteria, usually from infected faeces or urine.
Due to the way in which it is spread, Typhoid is not a disease that is common in developed countries which have above adequate levels of sanitation and access to clean water. As the disease is virtually absent in Singapore, the vaccination is not part of the list of recommended vaccinations for Singaporeans or visitors to Singapore.
However, those who regularly travel to developing countries may wish to obtain the vaccination and will need to receive a single dose every three years.
You may find that most clinics will offer ‘combination vaccinations’ whereby a number of certain vaccines can be delivered in one go rather than a number of singular inoculations so speak to your clinician to find out if this method would be better for yourself or your child.
It should also be noted that if you have just relocated to Singapore and your child was already part of a vaccination schedule, they are allowed to continue on that same schedule from your hometown rather than following Singapore's local programme. Again, this can be discussed with your GP or clinician to see what best suits your family.
Pacific Prime works with a number of insurers who include coverage for vaccinations as part of their policies. Our team know the ins and outs of these policies and can easily help you to tailor a plan to meet your specific insurance needs. If you would like to find out more about coverage for vaccinations, or if you have any questions regarding health insurance in Singapore, please do not hestitate to send us an email or give us a call.