Chickenpox Vaccine Will be Free for Eligible Children from Nov 2020; Here Are The Changes S’poreans Should Know About

Let’s face it: since we were young, we could feel our hearts in our mouth whenever nurses came to our primary school, because whenever they were there, they came with needles that would turn even the toughest bullies into cry-babies.

And even if you’re 40 years old now, you’ve no idea what injections you’ve had as a kid except BCG, and you thought that BCG is a vaccine for a disease called…Boy Catch Girl.

Now that there’s going to be a change in the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) whereby the chickenpox vaccine would be free soon, you must be wondering: wait, you mean there is a vaccine for chickenpox?

And what the heck is NCIS or NAIS?

Here’s what you need to know about the enhanced schedule—and no, COVID-19 vaccine is not included. Yet.

National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS)

To understand this, you’d have to know what a vaccine is.

To put it simply, a vaccine is like an empty virus that can’t cause harm: when you, say, take the COVID-19 vaccine (when it’s available), a weak and empty coronavirus would be inserted into your body. Because it’s “empty”, it can’t cause COVID-19.

Your immune system would then spot the virus and thought that it’s going to cause COVID-19, so they’ll create antibodies to destroy it. After that, your immune system would “remember” the coronavirus and let those antibodies linger in your body, lest a real coronavirus finds its way into your body after a Sovereign sneezed in your face. With the antibodies, the virus will be destroyed even before it can affect you.

In other words, you’re now immune to the coronavirus.

Creating a vaccine isn’t the hardest part, but developing one that’s safe and long-lasting is the tough part. After all, the vaccine for COVID-19 was created even before we knew what Circuit Breaker means; the tough, and ongoing, process is to test and ensure it’s safe.

So those vaccines we have as a kid are all tested to be safe le.

In Singapore, the moment we’re born, we’d need to take vaccines so that we won’t be infected by those nasty virus lingering in our society. As a child, we’ll go through a schedule known as the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule so that we can follow a “timetable”.

That actually comprises 11 recommended immunisations against 8 diseases, but only 2 vaccines are compulsory by law: the vaccine against Diphtheria and Measles.

The rest of them are recommended to be taken within the 18 months since you were born, and whether you have them depends on your parents since I presume you can’t make any decision when you were 6 months old, but chances are, you’re vaccinated.

If you’re born after 1996, you can actually check if you’re vaccinated in this website.

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By the end of this year, Singaporeans under the age of 18 would be eligible for full subsidies for vaccinations under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS).

Reader Bao: Wait, you mean last time I paid for the vaccines one?

Not you lah, your parents, because they’d all be in your body before you reach 18 months.

Reader Bao: No, you are fake news. When I was 12, I saw my bully crying after taking BCG.

Right—the ones that we remember taking when we were 12 (technically it’s between 10 and 11) are actually “boosters”—we’ve taken them when we were still shitting in our diapers, and take one more to boost the effects.


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And if you’re like me, you might think that the drop of liquid you took as an 11-year-old is to “lessen” the pain—it’s not. That is a booster against another disease as well—one that’s caused by the poliovirus.

Now, what if you’ve not taken the recommended vaccines as a kid?


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You can opt for the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS), which was established in 2017. It works just like the ones a newborn in Singapore would go through, just that it’ll protect you against 11 diseases with 7 vaccines instead, and one of which is influenza—something that a kid won’t be vaccinated against (yet).

Reader Bao: Is it because adults are becoming influencers?

This is a serious topic, so please don’t joke about it.

Influencers and non-influencers like Ah Hock won’t get any free doses, but the goody thing is that you can use up to $400 of your Medisave, under the Medisave400 scheme, for all recommended vaccinations for the target adult population groups in the NAIS.

Okay, so now that you know what NCIS and NAIS is, what’s new?


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Chickenpox and Pneumococcal Disease Now Included

If you’re read through the entire wall of text above, you’d know that the National Adult Immunisation Schedule isn’t something we’re interested in since we technically need to pay for them. In fact, if we want to, we can choose individual vaccines to take—aka ala carte.

But the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (aka extra value meal) is free, so take-up rate would be high.

And yesterday, MOH said that in the extra value meal, chickenpox and pneumococcal disease (some chim 23-valent so it’s new) vaccine will be included.

Prior to that, these are the diseases that were included in the schedule (the ones with * is compulsory):

  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Diphtheria*, Tetanus , Pertussis
  • Poliovirus
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Measles*, Mumps , Rubella
  • Pneumococcal Disease

From November 2020, chickenpox vaccine will be included.


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Here’s the chart before 1 November 2020:

Image: hpb.gov.sg

Here’s one from 1 November 2020:

Image: MOH

So our dear children have to go through the chickenpox vaccination on 12 months and 15 months le.

And also, if you’ve noticed, flu vaccines would also be available for all kids from 6 months to 5 years old, and be given to kids with specific medical conditions or indications for all kids from 5 to 17 years old.

So what does this mean for us?


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Basically, we can no longer say this le: “Eh, you got chickenpox liao or not?”

Because most kids would’ve been vaccinated against it.

Of course, I don’t need a crystal ball to project that when the COVID-19 vaccine is ready, it’d be included in the extra value meal.

In the meantime, we can only do our best to stop the transmission, which you can help by downloading the TraceTogether app. If you’ve not downloaded it, do watch this video and that might change your mind:


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