The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) would like to condemn last week’s newspaper report of a young girl in Malaita province who claimed to have her arm turned magnetic attracting android phone and other metal objects after getting her first COVID-19 vaccine jab.
This report is not only misleading but more concerning is the fact that it lacks key fundamental principle of journalism which is to tell the truth, truth in a practical and functional sense which we can operate on, on daily basis.
In this case, the Ministry of Health should have been consulted for a response to the matter prior to publication. This is very important as we continue to deal with vaccine hesitancies and strive to speed up uptake across the country. The report last week did not verify the claims at all both with the Ministry of Health and the young girl, the subject of the article.
The article also displayed total lack of respect for privacy and confidentiality of the individual by proceeding to publish the story without her knowledge and consent. This is irresponsible on the part of the media firm.
As such, the Ministry of Health though knowingly that the COVID-19 vaccine could not be responsible for a human body turning magnet, carried out an investigation into the claim anyway as it might be due to other medical conditions or factors as the health of the young girl could be at risk if truly she is magnetic. Team deployed comprised of Kilu’ufi hospital and the provincial health promotion staff.
When out in the field, they managed to locate the young girl and conducted interviews together with nurses of Fauambu clinic, in north Malaita.
The health team managed to verify through her mobile phone number, since she lost her vaccination card that she was vaccinated with 1st dose Sinopharm on the 17th of July in Honiara and missed her 2nd dose which was scheduled for the 7th of August. According to her, she experience minor side effects such general body pain, dizziness, and having poor appetite upon returning to Malaita province. These symptoms are all reported adverse events of COVID-19 vaccines. At that time, she did not reported any magnetic effect resulting from vaccination. It was only after she heard the rumours of phone sticking to the injection site that she decided to check it on herself.
The health team investigated the claim by placing an android phone against the injection site and the phone failed to stick to her arm despite multiple attempts and with various positioning of the phone. She was even asked to stand under the sun but the phone still did not stick to her arm.
Senior staff and nurses at Fauambu clinic who reported that the young girl visited the clinic twice for her concerns confirmed that based on their assessment, she was booked for referral to Kilu’ufi hospital for further medical assessment and psychiatric analysis due to inconsistencies with her conversation, story and behaviour. For instance, the girl reported that she had her vaccination in May 2021 and in a video clip said to have taken her first jab in December 2021, when the vaccines have not yet arrived in country.
As such based on investigations into the matter, the Ministry of Health would like to assure the public that the claim of mobile phone sticking to the young girl’s arm due to COVID-19 vaccination is not true.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that metals and other objects sticking to the skin is a possibility under some conditions such as sweaty skin and positioning of the objects etc. and there is nothing new about it. Every now and then people experience these incidents of metals and other objects sticking against their skin, these incidents are not due to COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccines are administered in liquid form as opposed to magnets, which are metal or iron in their physical form and are inserted into the body through the eye of the needle.
The Ministry of Health kindly requests for responsible media reporting and avoid sensationalizing unverified information as we continue to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines. Such reporting is not in the interest of the country and have the potential to have a negative and detrimental impact to the COVID-19 vaccination drive but also for other National Vaccination and Immunisation efforts in addressing diseases which can be prevented through vaccinations.