David Cassar: Dental Surgery Student Turned Frontliner
Updated: Oct 5
In times of crisis your country calls on you to make sacrifice. Despite the hardships and health risks, the anxiety and fear, the uncertainty and danger, frontline workers have continued to do their jobs and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But not all frontline workers were prepared for what they were going to face. Some were lunged into action because that was what was required of them. Because if it wasn't for their courage and tenacity Malta would still be far, far away from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Second year dental surgery student turned frontliner and vaccinator David Cassar spoke to SideStreet about his experience of entering the unknown, and the anxieties, worries and challenges he faced through it all.
At his young age he's vaccinated more people than he would have ever imagined, many of which would prove to make his job as a vaccinator more difficult than expected:
One morning I had come in and the first patient that came up to me was crying. First thing that comes to mind as a vaccinator when someone comes crying, it's the fear of needles. So I asked her "Are you afraid of needles?" or what is scaring you. The first thing she told me was "I'm afraid you're going to chip me".
- What was the experience of becoming a frontliner?
In the second semester our faculty offered the opportunity to undergo training which would allow us to give a helping hand in the vaccination efforts. Through specific training and a few tests we gained enough experience to put ourselves on the front lines and actually start making a difference. And we've been helping people and vaccinating since then.
- Did becoming a frontliner make you anxious?
At times I did feel a bit scared for my safety, but through the very rigorous training I had underwent, I knew that if I followed protocol, I'd be safe. Of course, I was scared I'd make mistakes, anyone would be afraid when they undertake something so new and something so different to what they normally do, but we were trained to handle very specific situations and very different situations, so I felt very confident in what I was doing.
- Were there any interesting encounters whilst volunteering?
Well, especially over the last few months we've had a lot of anti-vaxxers come in and we hear some really crazy stories sometimes.
One morning the first person who came to be vaccinated was a middle-aged woman who burst out crying. It's something we deal with normally, I assumed it was the fear of the needle. I approached her and I told her "Ma'am, what seems to be the problem? Are you afraid of needles? I'll be real delicate, I'll make sure it's quick." She expressed to me that she was afraid that I'd be putting a chip inside of her and preventing her from having kids in the future. That was a pretty crazy one.
- What is your opinion on anti-vaxxers?
At the end of the day, I believe that everyone has the right to do what they want with their body. But when it comes to a situation like this where you might be affecting the safety of other people, I do have a bit of an issue with that.
- Do you think that the nationwide vaccination effort will bring the pandemic to an end?
I'm sure that we helped make a dent in bringing everything get back to normal, but there's still a bit of a way to go, I think we're on the last stretch. I feel like as frontliners we've made a difference.
- Should we still be worried even though we've reached herd immunity and vaccinated so many people?
I don't think we should be worried, but I don't think we should be 'lax' about it. I think the perfect word is attentive towards, you know, any shifts we may experience or any differences in trends. But we're going in the right direction, so we should be happy about that.
- What is your advice to our viewers?
Stay cautious, still have fun, we're not past it yet but it's something that we soon can put in the past.
Would you be a frontliner?