GEORGE TOWN: Concerns of being jabbed with an empty syringe filled the mind of finance analyst Yeap Sim Ho when she turned up at the SPICE Arena for her dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
But after going through the process yesterday, she is now filled with confidence for the nation’s immunisation programme.
Within seconds, the vaccination was done and 28-year-old Yeap came out smiling.
“After hearing about incidents of empty syringes, I couldn’t help but be extra cautious.
“Here, the vaccinator showed me the vial of vaccine, the syringe drawing up the vaccine, the jabbing process into my left arm and the syringe emptied after that.
“That gave me full confidence that I got what I came for,” she said yesterday.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) student Muhammad Hafeezuddin Abu Baker, 21, was also glad that he was shown the process during his vaccination.
“After experiencing this, I urge other recipients to be calm and not be misled by rumours. It is almost impossible to be administered with an empty syringe,” he said.
At the centre where 3,000 doses are administered daily, orderly streams of people were seen making their way into the booths.
After verifying their identities, vaccinators sanitised a spot on their arms with alcohol swabs before using a syringe to draw 0.5ml of the AstraZeneca vaccine from a vial in their presence.
Each 5ml vial of AstraZeneca serves 10 doses.
Dr Tan Khai Siang, who is volunteering as a vaccine controller at the centre, said the standard operating procedure to acquire vaccines from Penang Hospital on a daily basis was just as stringent to prevent misappropriation.
“Every morning, we collect only the exact amount of vaccines needed for the day with a police escort.
“The vaccines are placed in a 26-litre cooler box and stored at between 2º and 8ºC.
“Each vaccinator is issued only two vials each time at the booths. This is to ensure that optimum temperatures are maintained,” he said.
On the probability of vaccines being wasted, Dr Tan said it was about one dose in every thousand. Such doses need to be discarded for various reasons.
Vaccinator Siti Aisyah Abu Bakar, 32, said if people have doubts about their vaccine, they are free to consult medical officers at the site at any time until they are satisfied.
“We have doctors ready to explain. So far, nobody has rejected their vaccines here,” she said.
The site’s coordinator, Dr Harkirath Singh, said between 16 and 20 vaccinators at the centre operated in two shifts to prevent being overworked.
“We dispense 3,000 doses daily and 114,000 doses have been administered since we started on June 7,” he said.
Dr Harkirath said that to further instil public trust, the centre has tightened the SOP and is now practising a “look at your syringe” policy, in which everyone being vaccinated is asked to observe the whole process.
Penang Health Department Family Health Development Branch assistant senior director Dr Amin Harin said vaccines will only be jabbed once vaccinators and those to be vaccinated are in agreement.
“Our advice to the public is always request to see their syringe to ensure it is filled and emptied after they are jabbed.