WO1 Mohamed Shafiee bin Jamin (left) and SGT3 Muhammad Aerzam bin Abdullah (right) were among the SCDF first responders to be vaccinated. [Credit: Ministry of Home Affairs]
On 11 January 2021, over 1,000 SCDF officers involved in front-line healthcare operations received their Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination at the Temporary Medical Centre set-up at HQ SCDF. Prior to the vaccination, these officers were screened for their eligibility, based on their medical history and pre-existing medical conditions.
They received their second dose on 1 February 2021. Rescue 995 engaged Paramedic WO1 Mohamed Shafiee bin Jamin and Emergency Medical Technician SGT3 Muhammad Aerzam bin Abdullah on their experience for being one of the first few SCDF officers to be vaccinated.
Rescue 995: We understand that you have received your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. What does that mean for you?
WO1 Shafiee: As COVID-19 pandemic is still out there, we cannot be certain that we would not be infected. The vaccine gives me the assurance that we have some form of protection against the virus, and at the same time, lowers the chances of members of the public contracting the virus from us when we are on duty. This gives me a peace of mind at work every day.
SGT3 Aerzam: I felt relieved that I have finally completed the vaccination. I am also assured that I will be protected from the virus. However, I must not let my guard down but continue to adhere to the safety measures as such wearing of mask.
WO1 Mohamed Shafiee bin Jamin waiting in line with other SCDF officers for his turn to receive the vaccination.
Rescue 995: Were there any concerns when you and/or your family first learnt that you will be receiving the vaccine?
WO1 Shafiee: Before going for the vaccination, I chanced upon some rumours on the internet regarding the vaccine and I did not know how effective or dangerous it can be. However, with more official information backed by scientific explanation and the added assurance given nationally and in the Home Team including within SCDF, my concerns for the side effect or adverse reaction to the vaccines were considerably lessened. In short, I have faith in the system, and I believe my fellow front-line officers and I are in safe hands.
At first, there were some concerns among my colleagues and I for, after all, it is a new vaccine and how will the body react to it. My family members were also anxious about how it would turn out after I had been vaccinated. However, with the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ circulated to the front-liners as well as briefing by our superior, it helped to allay our fears. For instance, we were informed about the step by step procedure including the pre-vaccination medical screening conducted by the doctor to ensure that it is indeed safe for one to be vaccinated. Over and above, for me, the added confidence kicked in when I witnessed members of SCDF Senior Management such as Commissioner SCDF himself getting vaccinated.
SGT3 Muhammad Aerzam bin Abdullah receiving his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination. [Credit: Ministry of Home Affairs]
Rescue 995: How has the vaccination changed your work and family life?
SGT3 Aerzam: In our line of work, we are constantly at the forefront dealing with various emergency cases. Being vaccinated not only minimises my risk of contracting the virus but also protects those who are unable to receive the vaccination such as children. The vaccine coupled with the safe management measures gives me the added confidence in carrying out my duty. I am also thankful that I am able to return home safely to my wife and daughter after work.
WO1 Shafiee: For me, life goes on as per normal and I am still doing my duty as a paramedic. The only difference is that from time to time, my relatives and friends would ask me whether I had experienced any adverse effects from the vaccination. I assured them that all is well, and remind them that with or without vaccination, we must remain vigilant and adhere strictly to the safe management measures.