Behind the scenes exclusive – How Changi got Singapore’s largest vaccination centre up and running in 7-days

February 2021

The setup team taking a group photo to celebrate the smooth completion of day 1 at the Changi Vaccination Centre at Terminal 4



2021 started on a bright note for aviation – The Ministry of Health (MOH) made the decision to start vaccinating the aviation community right after prioritising healthcare workers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. This move was pivotal given the sector’s role in keeping Singapore’s air borders and its link to the outside world open.  ​

In addition to existing safe management measures at the airport, which continues to be necessary in helping Singapore to mitigate any spread and keep community transmission low, vaccination is the next key enabler to protect the country and prepare Changi Airport to emerge stronger from Covid-19.​

Changi Journeys was given rare access for an exclusive look into how Changi Airport Group (CAG) managed to turn Terminal 4 (T4), with operations currently suspended, into Singapore’s largest Covid-19 vaccination centre (VC) in just seven days.

To facilitate a smooth inoculation process for frontline air crew and airport workers, it was decided that the arrival hall of T4 would be used because of its convenient location and that it would not impact ongoing airport operations.   

With the location confirmed, CAG sprung into action, setting up various taskforces to plan the vaccination schedule, as well as arrange for the physical setup of the VC together with Raffles Medical Group (RMG), taking into account resource capacity and space required for optimum flow.  The team also aligned with MOH on operational matters to ensure that the correct number of vaccines would be supplied to the VC daily. It was important for everything to run like clockwork and for capacity to be scaled up if needed. At the current peak, 3,000 can receive the Covid-19 jab each day. As at 9 February, more than 36,500 frontline aviation workers, including Jewel staff, had received their first dose of vaccine, and nearly 4,000 had completed their second dose. The VC is expected to be scaled up to between 4,000 and 8,000 people in the near future as the Government plans towards opening the centre at T4 to the community.

The scheduling of frontline staff, of whom the bulk works on shift is no mean feat, as factors such as duty timings and team structure had to be taken into account. For business continuity purposes, employees within a specific function had to be scheduled a number of days apart, so that should anyone experience any post-vaccination side effects such as fever and aches, they could have the appropriate rest needed.


Physical setup at the VC

Signages with clear instructions were placed at key locations to help direct staff, making their vaccination process smooth and efficient


At the VC, three main zones were set up to facilitate process flow. At Zone 1, airport workers would first mark their attendance with their respective organisations, before joining the queue for medical registration by RMG personnel, where they will be asked a series of questions to check whether they can receive the vaccine. During the queuing process, staff were on ground to ensure that workers observe the safe distance markers on the floor.

(left) waiting area before entering the vaccine zone with seats safely spaced apart; (right) vaccine zone with a total of 27 booths


Once registration is done, they proceed to Zone 2 or the vaccine zone, where they would wait before being assigned to a booth for their inoculation.


Observation area after the vaccine zone, with more than 200 seats spaced 1m apart


After receiving their vaccination, airport workers will rest for 30 minutes at the third area which is the Observation Zone, to monitor for any discomfort or medical conditions before they complete the process and leave the VC.

All the planning and set up was completed in just seven days. The first batch of airport workers received their vaccine on 13 January. Besides the coordination and physical setup to ensure that no vaccines go to waste once they have been thawed, CAG also had a team on standby to receive any extra vaccine, in the event that some airport workers did not show up during their allocated slot, or were assessed to be unsuitable for vaccination.

The first person from CAG to receive the Covid-19 vaccination is Duty Terminal Manager Chanel Wong. She was full of praise for the RMG staff that gave her the jab: “It’s a breeze and painless! You can be assured that you’re in the safe hands of trained medical professionals from RMG.” Chanel hopes the Covid-19 vaccines will make a difference to Singapore: “With the vaccine now available, I am hopeful that air travel can progressively recover and at the same time provide the much needed protection to both passengers and the aviation community.” 


The moment the first staff from CAG received the Covid-19 vaccination.


The lead of the VC setup team, Kirk Chua, Senior Manager, Ground Operations & Customer Service, Airport Operations Management, shared, “It was an honour to be given this opportunity to set up the VC in T4, together with my fellow colleagues and RMG. We transformed T4 from its suspension mode into a VC in just seven days, to facilitate more than 3,000 people per day for their vaccination. The team is heartened to witness so many people coming forward to get vaccinated. In particular, I am deeply encouraged by one of our oldest airport staff, 89 years old Mr Woong, who came for his vaccination high spirits. I sincerely urge all to step forward to get vaccinated so that we can keep ourselves and loved ones safe. Together, we can achieve herd immunity soon!”

The team’s efforts did not go unnoticed, and they were deeply heartened by a Forum Letter in the Straits Times on 28 January, thanking them for a smooth vaccination process.

With the first batch of airport workers having received their second dose of the vaccine on 2 February, the team looks forward to the successful completion of the full vaccination regimen, and to brighter skies in the year ahead!


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