From 15 February this year, two Mobile Vaccination Teams (MVTs) from SATA CommHealth have been travelling to nursing homes, disability homes, destitute homes and other eldercare facilities across Singapore to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for their staff and residents.
These teams form part of a Ministry of Health initiative to protect a wider range of people in Singapore. The Ministry arranged for Mobile Vaccination Teams by different organisations to reach out to seniors with mobility issues, as they face greater challenges visiting a vaccination site in-person. Each MVT comprises a medical doctor, at least four nurses and three administration staff, and is deployed to different locations each day to administer the vaccine. Each deployment may involve one or two teams, depending on on-site requirements.
Preparation is essential before each exercise commences. SATA CommHealth MVTs held many drills, especially for the management of vaccination-related side effects such as severe drug allergy. Training is provided to nurses on vaccine management, such as cold chain logistics, as well as training for all staff on the relevant IT platforms. The team is well prepared with resuscitation equipment including the Epi-pen and other emergency drugs.
While the work is fulfilling, the MVT does face various challenges on the ground:
- Depending on the complexity of each case, more time is required by the doctors and nurses to establish the resident’s medical history, including drug allergies. Nursing home residents have multiple chronic diseases and are older compared to general walk-in patients at the typical vaccination centres.
- Staff have to don full PPE even when moving all the vaccines and required items to conduct bedside vaccination for those who are bedbound and have mobility issues.
- Some residents have dementia or psychiatric issues and struggle during vaccinations. More care and assistance from the team and nursing home staff are required at the ward.
- Aside from the medical staff, an observation nurse is assigned to monitor residents after the vaccination. However, the observer is unable to be at all the wards at one time, thus slowing down the overall process as it takes 30 minutes for each observation period to complete.
SATA CommHealth is glad to be part of this vaccination exercise where we can provide our dedicated and professional care to the people of the nation during such an urgent and trying period.