Yak Family's Brother, Age 57, Pfizer Dose
Mr Yak Hock Hwa, a 57-year-old private-hire car driver, went for vaccination at the vaccination centre set up in Bukit Timah Community Club. He took his first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine jab on 5 March 2021, Friday.
After the jab, Mr Yak had felt fine. It was only around 7pm, on 6 March, when he began feeling breathless. His hand felt numb. Ms Yak Mui Yah, his younger sister, had thought he was experiencing common side effects of the vaccine.
But Mr Yak's condition persisted, so Ms Yak decided to bring her brother to the hospital. As they were about to leave, Mr Yak collapsed in the living room of their flat. An ambulance sent Mr Yak into the National University Hospital (NUH) around 9pm. An hour later, about 10pm, the hospital informed Ms Yak that her brother had died.
The hospital had determined the cause of death as cardiology-related, based on symptoms presented and the readings of an electrocardiogram. They had also reviewed the case to have been properly managed, from arrival to demise. Since NUH doctors were confident that Mr Yak's death was unrelated to the vaccine, the Yak family declined to have an autopsy done, believing it could not inform whether his death was related in any way to the vaccine. However, they hoped to receive compensation from the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP).
NUH alerted the Ministry of Health (MOH) about Mr Yak's case on 8 March, Monday. An independent clinical panel was subsequently set up by MOH to look into the matter. And in 24 May, Monday, MOH spoke to the Straits Times about their findings. The panel has determined that the death was not due to the vaccination; there was lack of evidence for it. Instead, the death was certified to be caused by acute myocardial infarction, the medical term for a heart attack. MOH had made note of Mr Yak's medical history of diabetes and hypertension.
Hence, the Yak family was informed that the deceased Mr Yak was ineligible for the payout - his death deemed unrelated to the vaccination.
But the family would like to pursue the matter. Mr Yak had died the day after his shot, shocking and bewildering them. He had been given a clean bill of health for two years after health screenings. His last screening on 28 Jan reported him medically fit, with no evidence of abnormal cardiovascular matter. In fact, Mr Yak siblings, Ms Yak and an older brother, Mr Yak Chin Hua, could not recall their deceased brother ever encountering any cardiac-related problems.
Therefore, the family would like the authorities to provide further explanation, or full report, on how Mr Yak's death was unrelated to the vaccine he had received. At that point in late May, they had yet to submit an official application to VIFAP.
They had also sought the help of Members of Parliament (MP), Dr Tan Wu Meng and Sim Ann. Both MPs got involved because the various family members were living in the constituencies they oversee.
Ms Sim had offered to find a doctor willing to look through the available medical documents on a voluntary basis, one who could assist them to understand MOH's findings of Mr Yak's case. As of late May, Ms Sim told TODAY that she has yet to find a doctor willing to do so, but she and her team will continue in their efforts.
TODAY's article, dated 23 May 2021
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