RAUB, Dec 1 — The free pneumococcal vaccination under the National Immunisation Programme for children begins simultaneously today at the Ministry of Health (MOH) health clinics nationwide, which will benefit 500,000 children each year.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said children born on or after Jan 1, 2020, are eligible for the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) which would be given in three doses, the two primary doses at the age of four months and six months, and the PCV booster at 15 months.
However, the pneumococcal immunisation schedule would be adjusted for children whose vaccinations have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
“The administration of the pneumococcal vaccine is the most effective method to prevent pneumococcal bacterial infection and indirectly reduce the resistance to antibiotics. This vaccine is also safe and effective.
“The vaccination is vital and quite timely after the number of cases of children with the pneumococcal disease increased from 17,446 in 2017 to 19,773 last year,” he said after launching the National Pneumococcal Immunisation Programme for Children at a health clinic here, today.
Also present were MOH disease control director Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli, state Works, Transportation and Health committee chairman Datuk Seri Norol Azali Sulaiman and Pahang health director Datuk Dr Bahari Che Awang Ngah.
The vaccine is intended to prevent bacterial infections of streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus, which can cause diseases such as pneumonia, sinusitis, middle ear infection (otitis media), meningitis and bacterial infections in the blood (septicemia).
“Complications of pneumococcal disease include hearing impairment, brain deformity and death. Children aged five and below are the most at risk of becoming infected and experiencing complications of this disease. Apart from reducing the rate of morbidity and mortality due to related diseases, the vaccination can also reduce treatment costs,” he said.
Dr Adham also said that the MOH always ensures that the vaccine used is effective and safe, but parents are urged to report the side effects of the vaccine, if any, to health personnel or through the website at npra.gov.my.
MOH will also deploy the Orang Asli mobile team, mobile bus services, mobile boats and air doctor services to administer the vaccination to children in the rural areas, he added.