UOB taps leading Singapore Covid expert to teach staff about vaccine

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UOB taps leading Singapore Covid expert to teach staff about vaccine

UOB has brought in one of Singapore’s top infectious-diseases specialists to educate employers about the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine as front-line banking staff are given priority access to jabs.

On Friday, the bank ran an “educational webinar” for all employees with Professor Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, says Dean Tong, head of group human resources at UOB. The event was designed to help people “understand how the vaccine is important to combatting the spread of Covid-19”, adds Tong.

UOB is also providing updated information on Covid-19 vaccines “through a dedicated intranet site which all colleagues worldwide can tap”, says Tong.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said last week that people performing critical operations in systemically important financial institutions in Singapore have been invited to indicate their interest to be vaccinated. The firms involved in the priority vaccination drive are UOB, DBS, OCBC, Maybank, HSBC, Citigroup and Standard Chartered.

“UOB is encouraging our employees in essential roles to participate in the national vaccination programme. As advised by the authorities, UOB employees in critical operations necessary to support the functioning of the economy or who deliver essential goods and services will be given priority,” says Tong.

The drive to vaccinate essential workers in the financial sector will be rolled out in phases, according to MAS. It follows the vaccination of most frontline workers in Singapore’s healthcare and aviation sectors. Critical banking employees aren’t limited to those who have regular face-to-face contact with customers. They include people involved in operations that enable the delivery of essential financial services and support, such as cash withdrawals and deposits, treasury management, and payments, MAS said.

“They are basically people who have to be in the office to perform their function, and those who cannot work from home,” says a spokesperson for Citi. For example, this could include office-based technology and operations staff working on core systems. “We regularly communicate to our staff on measures to stay safe and healthy, and on the benefits of the vaccination programme so that people can make an informed choice,” says the Citi spokesperson.

DBS has been allocated a “limited number” of vaccines by the government under the vaccination programme for the sector, and it will target vaccinations to those who are at greater risk of exposure, reports the Business Times. OCBC’s vaccination support programme includes granting a day off to employees on the day of the vaccination, reimbursements of taxi fares to and from the vaccination clinic, and reimbursement of medical fees and additional paid medical leave in the case of side effects.

Finance professionals and recruiters have welcomed the vaccination roll-out in Singapore’s largest banks. “While I can work from home, others aren’t so fortunate, so they should be vaccinated before me,” says one banker. The vaccine drive will help more people return to the office in the coming months, which will have positive repercussions for the job market, says headhunter Angela Kuek, director of Meyer Consulting Group. “Vaccinating finance professionals is important as the banking industry is core to many other sectors. The movement of money is essential to get the economy going, and any disruption of banking operations staff due to Covid could limit the speed of recovery in the banking industry,” says Gary Lai, managing director, South East Asia, at Charterhouse Partnership.

Singapore’s overall vaccination campaign was today brought forward for all senior citizens, and extended to more high-risk groups and essential workers, including teachers, postmen and migrant workers.

Image: Unsplash

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