DEPUTY Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali must be applauded for the quick reassurance he gave to the public on the case of the empty syringe at a Covid-19 vaccination centre, “Dr Noor Azmi: Empty syringe was an accident, 12-year-old boy got vaccine immediately after” (The Star, Oct 2; online at https://bit.ly/2WDPUMI).
He said it was a genuine mistake by the vaccinator, and described it as “an on-duty mistake or human error”.
He was referring to a video, which went viral on social media, showing a vaccinator at the Vaccination Centre in Universiti Malaya plunging the wrong (empty) syringe into the arm of a 12-year-old child.
Despite the deputy minister’s assurance that action against the staff had been taken to ensure such an incident would not recur, some questions still remain, and these must be addressed in order to restore full confidence in the vaccination process among the public.
If one examines the video carefully, it can be clearly seen that besides picking up the wrong syringe, the vaccinator did not press the plunger. This fact would cast doubts on the assertion that the episode was a mistake.
And if she had pressed the plunger, the lack of resistance would have immediately alerted her to the fact that the syringe was empty.
Having jabbed many a person, it is inconceivable that the health worker could not have forgotten to press the plunger.
Saying that it was a mistake seems to be a convenient way to avoid a full-scale investigation into what could be the tip of an iceberg.
It is therefore incumbent upon ProtectHealth, which conducted the investigation and advised the health authorities, to do a complete investigation to assuage the troubled rakyat.
We do not wish to see the laudable work done by the Health Ministry so far sullied by any deliberate despicable act.
It seems to be a good move, as stated by the deputy health minister, to allow parents to witness their children’s vaccination process, but this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
We want to know how many “horses” are now roaming free, posing a threat to others as well as to themselves.
The public are concerned. Did they really receive the vaccines? Do they now have to go for antibody tests?
These are searching questions that cannot be answered in a cavalier fashion. It calls for a full investigation and for the findings to be made public.
When we exhort the public to take the jabs, it is incumbent upon us to keep them fully informed of the benefits and risks, if any, along the way. That is the responsible thing to do.
I concur with Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of Alliance for Safe Community, when he said incidents of empty syringes being used during the vaccination process should be viewed more seriously and should not be swept under the carpet.
He also said these incidents could lead to those who had been vaccinated doubting the integrity of their jabs.
He has asked, and I support him, that the authorities should quickly release the results of investigations into previous allegations of empty syringes.