Seven Hong Kong doctors are suspected of issuing false “jab-free certs,” the COVID-19 vaccination medical exemption certificates. Some patient organizations worry that the incident will have a chilling effect, making it more difficult for those who really meet the requirements to find a doctor to issue the certificate in the future.
Alex C.Y. Lam, the chairman of the Hong Kong Patients’ Voices, said on a radio program on Sept. 28 that more than 20,000 “jab-free certs” were issued by the seven arrested doctors, and some “jab-free certs” cost thousands of Hong Kong Dollars (approx. US$ 400).
He described the numbers as mind-boggling, reflecting the need for the “jab-free cert,” and it is difficult for the public to find a doctor to issue a “jab-free cert.”
He pointed out that patients with chronic diseases or immune system problems think that their health condition is not suitable for injections, but they cannot find a doctor to issue a “jab-free cert”.
Some doctors refused to issue “jab-free cert” without knowing the patient’s health condition.
Some doctors in public hospitals even confirmed that some patients should not get vaccinated, but they stated that they would not issue the exemption certificate.
Lam said that there are very few doctors who are willing to issue a “jab-free cert.” This incident will also make doctors worry about the consequences of issuing the certificates.
He also worried about the chilling effect, which makes it more difficult for people in need to find a doctor to issue the certificate.
“It was difficult in the past, but it is even more difficult now.” He also mentioned that the government’s Vaccine Allergy Safety Clinic is now booked until 2028, and he considered the services useless.
He pointed out that the world is gradually easing the pandemic prevention measures, and Hong Kong has also changed the quarantine requirement for arrival to “0+3” days. The Hong Kong government should consider whether it still needs to tighten the Vaccine Pass.
Judgment of “Borderline Cases”
Leung Hon-fai, president of the Hong Kong Doctors Union, attended the same radio program and said that doctors need time to assess the patient’s condition, and some patients even need examinations. For example, an examination is needed for heart disease or other acute diseases when a patient claims he feels chest pain.
On average, more than 100 “jab-free certs” were issued every day by the arrested seven doctors, Leung believed that the patients had not been examined before they were issued the certificates.
But he also believed that less than 10 percent of the 20,000 “jab-free certs” are in real need.
Leung agreed that this incident will bring pressure on other doctors and affect the judgment of “borderline cases,” but he believed that it would not be too difficult to issue such certificates as long as it is handled in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Health of Hong Kong.
He said that since there is a two-week buffer period before the relevant “jab-free certs” expire, there is enough time for affected patients in need to get re-evaluated by another doctor and get a new “jab-free cert.”