In case you didn’t know, there are more than just viral challenges, dances and Hello Kitty wedding ceremonies happening on TikTok. For the past two weeks, there have been a slew of TikTok livestreams hosted by @tiktoksg and featuring healthcare workers, experts and other frontliners about getting vaccinated in Singapore. It’s part of the platform’s way to support our nationwide vaccination drive and the #IGotMyShotSG campaign.
The final livestream, ‘Vaccinate Without Fear’, took place yesterday (Jul 22) and featured (main photo, from left) Covid-19 survivor and spin instructor Quek Shu Hui, host Fauzi Aziz, Professor Vernon Lee, Senior Director at the Communicable Diseases Division who also heads Ministry of Health’s (MOH) contact tracing team, and restaurateur Shahrizal Salleh, better known as Chef Bob.
These are the biggest lessons we gleaned from the hour-long TikTok livestream.
#1: Yes, you still need humans — hundreds of them — to do contact tracing, even with TraceTogether and SafeEntry.
A team of "a few hundred people" work on contact tracing, even now, according to Prof Lee. He also revealed more about the contact tracing process.
“Every time we have a case, the contact tracer will determine where the case has been over the last 14 days or so. That’s a lot of work,” he said. “If you try to recall what you ate one week ago, where you were and what you ate, most of us can’t remember. So we have SafeEntry to help you jog your memory. [There are also] different techniques to help you remember what you would not be able to remember upfront.
“After piecing the info together and finding out who you’ve been in contact with, we contact those individuals and find out the type of contact you’ve had with them, and from there do the necessary quarantine and testing and all that. It requires a lot of effort, so we really thank everyone who’s been helping us through this process.”
#2: Getting infected with Covid-19 didn’t just take a physical toll, but was also emotionally tough.
Quek Shu Hui, spin instructor and Covid-19 survivor, tested positive for the coronavirus in March 2020. Her dad was a Covid-19 case and he’d gotten it from his colleague. She has since received one dose of vaccination (Covid-19 survivors need only one dose, she explained).
Shu Hui recalled the early days of the pandemic last year, just after her dad was identified as a Covid-19 positive case.
“The Ministry of Health called up our family, and I told them I was having fever, sore throat and flu,” she said. “I was admitted to NCID for seven days. Very thankfully, I was having very mild symptoms like slight fever and slight cough, but I lost my sense of taste and smell for 14 days.
“After [I was discharged from NCID], I was moved to an isolation facility at D’Resort for three weeks. You take a swab test every four days — if it’s negative, you’ll do a second swab test the next morning. If the next one is negative, then you can be discharged. But if the second test is positive, then you’ll have to wait another four days [to get tested again]. This cycle continues until you test double negative.”
She was isolated for a total of 30 days, which she admitted “was really tough”.
“When I first got admitted, I thought, okay maybe [I’ll take this as having] some time to myself. But slowly, this positivity and optimism wavered towards the end, and I really wanted to go back and speak to my family again. Whenever I got a false negative — that is, one negative result followed by a positive the next day — it was really heartbreaking. Thirty days was pretty short, compared to my roommates in NCID and D’Resort who were away [from their families] for two whole months."
Tracing her contacts back then was a lot tougher as TraceTogether and SafeEntry were not in place yet. “You don’t realise how many people you meet in the 14 days until you start tracing records,” Shu Hui remembered.
“I was asked who I met with and I couldn’t remember at all. Luckily, I like to take photos so I looked through my photos. I’m a little ashamed to say this, but I really met a lot of people when I shouldn’t have. So let’s just do our part and practice a little social responsibility.”
#4: A post-vaccination drink recipe to consider
Shahrizal Salleh, better known as Chef Bob, runs a restaurant and is fully vaccinated. He has a recipe suggestion to help combat the side effects of the vaccination.
He shared: “You can make your own coconut slushie at home. Just blend ice and coconut water, like a margarita. It really cools u down. Coconut water helps to bring down temperature a slight bit. It’s not medically proven but that’s what I experienced. But don’t drink too much coconut water, and also don’t forget to drink water. Keep yourself hydrated after the vaccination.”
#5: A myth about Covid-19 vaccines to debunk
Says Prof Lee: “[One myth about vaccines that] I’d like to dispel is this: [Some people think] vaccines don’t work cos vaccinated people are getting infected. The truth is, the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective but it’s highly effective. Of course when you have so many people vaccinated and a lot of Covid-19 cases out there, [there are bound to be] some vaccinated individuals who get infected. But their infections are not severe. Even if I can prevent 80 or 90 per cent infections, there’ll still be a very small portion that get infected.
“So do not listen to people who say the vaccine is useless — it is not useless. It is highly effective, and we have evidence to back it up. It prevents severe outcomes like ICU admission or even death from Covid-19. If you get vaccinated, the disease can be very mild, like having a mild flu.”
View more vaccine-related videos on the TikTok app by searching #IGotMyShotSG.
Photo: TikTok Singapore