PETALING JAYA: Now that picture-taking and recording are allowed, health experts are advising those who are about to receive the Covid-19 vaccine to observe the process closely to allay fears they are getting a blank shot.
“It would be better if the staffer can show the recipient the syringe being filled from the vial, while the public should also observe carefully and, if necessary, take a photo or video,” she said yesterday.
Dr Moy said the vaccination staff should fill the syringes in front of the recipients as this would boost public confidence that they were indeed getting a proper vaccine dose, following claims of “empty” vaccination syringes that led many to doubt the integrity of the country’s Covid-19 immunisation programme.
On Friday, coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin said the public could now film their vaccination process so as to give them that sense of assurance that it was properly done.
Khairy also noted that the act of showing the correctly filled syringe to the recipient was now standard procedure.
Since his announcement on the permission to film, Malaysians have responded accordingly, with many sharing their photos or videos on social media.
Dr Moy said the “empty” syringes episode had caused a decline in public confidence in the vaccination programme, as well as increased vaccine hesitancy among the public.
As such, she said stern action must be taken against the staff member at fault in order to prevent this from happening again as the episode could jeopardise the aims of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia health economics, hospital and health management expert Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh said this “empty” syringe episode had affected the integrity of the Health Ministry, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, vaccination personnel and the quality of service provided to vaccine recipients.
On whether pre-filled vaccination syringes are allowed, she said this was acceptable as long as the vaccinating process was done properly.
“The vials contain jabs for a few people, so the providers need to fill multiple times into different disposable syringes,” she said.
As there are fears that some people did not receive the vaccine, Dr Sharifa said antibody (serology) testing was currently not recommended to assess the level of immunity following Covid-19 vaccination, or to assess the need for vaccination in an unvaccinated person.
Even with a serology test, she said a layperson must seek professional help in the matter as the interpretation of antibody levels was a rather technical thing that might be misunderstood.
Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye believed that the “empty” syringe issue was a “very big deal” as it had the potential to cast doubt on the programme.
Lee urged the government to face the realities on the ground and to address them, noting there seemed to be a disconnect between what the government says and what the people believe.
“The police have said they are investigating 13 reports about ‘empty’ syringes. Have they completed their investigation?
“If they have, shouldn’t the police be making their findings public?” he asked, adding that the government had to “get the facts straight” so that everything else would fall into place.