Parents want the best for their children and their child growing up healthy is always a priority. However, infectious diseases are one of the leading causes of death in children1. This is because children are at risk of danger of infections in their young age as their immune system or resistance to infection is still weak2.
Infectious diseases such as smallpox have been eradicated3, while others drastically reduced through vaccinations over more than 50 years. Unfortunately, in 2020, there was a significant drop in childhood vaccinations worldwide, due to lockdowns and movement restriction orders around the globe4.
It is important that parents understand the seriousness of vaccine preventable diseases and how childhood vaccinations help children stay well and healthy for themselves, families and the community.
National Immunisation Programme
Malaysia has long provided free immunisation services to its children to prevent major childhood diseases. The National Immunisation Programme (NIP) was introduced in the early 1950’s followed by the Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI).
Malaysia currently provides immusation against 13 major diseases that affect children5. Through this programme, infants and children are given vaccines to help strengthen their immune systems by stimulating defence cells, thereby protecting them from the possibility of life-threatening complications2.
National Immunization Schedule5
Table adapted from Info Sihat, Ministry of Health Malaysia 2021
In addition to the 13 major diseases that have been listed in the National Immunisation Programme, medical experts recommend that parents take extra precautions against five other diseases that are life threatening and dangerous for children.
theAsianparent interviewed an expert from Ara Damansara Medical Centre Dr Rakhee Yadav, Consultant Paediatrician & Head of Department of Paediatrics to get more information on these additional recommended vaccinations to protect infants and children.*
Additional Recommended Vaccines
According to Dr Rahkee, currently, there are five diseases that commonly affect children however they are not included in the National Immunisation Programme. She explains6:
The virus presents in the intestines of those infected and causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting7. In Malaysia, about 22% to 50% of cases of diarrhoea in children are caused by Rotavirus8. The disease is highly contagious and almost all children are infected before or at the age of 5 years7.
Image for representation purpose only
The disease is also better known by its English name – Chickenpox. The infection will cause a rash, blistering of the skin and uncomfortable itching. The disease is highly contagious as it is spread through contact and respiratory fluids. The vaccine against Varicella Zoster virus will help prevent people from getting the disease and more serious complications9,10,11.
Influenza (flu) differs from the common cold in that it can cause severe infections of the respiratory tract including the throat, nose and lungs. In addition, the symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscle pain and fatigue12. Failure to get treatment for the effects of the influenza virus can put the child at greater health risk such as pneumonia, lung diseases and heart problems13.
4. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by the Hepatitis A virus, spreads through water or food contaminated with faeces containing the Hepatitis A virus. The disease can lead to complications such as abdominal pain, liver failure and jaundice14.
A type of bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The disease mostly occurs in children and adolescents but 5 to 10 percent of those infected do not show symptoms of the disease. Without proper treatment, among the complications that can occur are nervous system problems such as paralysis, deafness and can cause death15.
Are all of these five additional recommended vaccines necessary for your child?
Doctor Rahkee stressed that all of the diseases mentioned have no specific treatment. Therefore, one of the preferred defences against these diseases is prevention through vaccines. She added that the diseases are easily transmitted in childcare centres and schools. Because of that, the Ministry of Health Malaysia recommends these five additional vaccines for infants and children.*
Despite the vaccines being available in private clinics or hospitals only, the government has ensured each vaccine is made available in Malaysia. These vaccines have gone through stringent and thorough scientific assessment before releasing it to the public.
In her opinion, the Ministry of Health Malaysia through the National Immunisation Programme has provided comprehensive protection to the community and Malaysians in measures to prevent diseases. So, it is the responsibility of parents to give these recommended additional vaccines to their children to maximise protection for their children.
*This information is provided as a professional service by MSD. The views expressed in the publication reflects the experience and opinions of the authors.
When and where should I get these five additional recommended vaccines?6
Image adapted from Immunise4Life
Additional vaccines are available at private clinics and hospitals. This Additional Vaccines Schedule is provided as a guideline for you to make the choice whether your child should complete all of these supplemental vaccines or not. For further consultation on the suitability of any vaccine for your child as well as ways to prevent dangerous diseases, please consult a paediatrician.
Let us take care of the health of our children and those around us. Prevention is always better than cure.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Children: Improving survival and well-being. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/children-reducing-mortality. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- MyHealth. Immunisation: Facts and Myths. Available from: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/imunisasi-fakta-dan-kemusykilan/. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- Andre FE, Booy R, Bock HL, Clemens J, Datta SK, John TJ, Lee BW, Lolekha S, Prltola H, Ruff TA, Santosham M, Schmitt HJ. Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide. Bull World Health Organ [Internet]. 2008;86(2).
- World Health Organization (WHO). COVID-19 pandemic leads to major backsliding on childhood vaccinations, new WHO, UNICEF data shows. Available from: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2021-covid-19-pandemic-leads-to-major-backsliding-on-childhood-vaccinations-new-who-unicef-data-shows. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- Info Sihat. Jadual Imunisasi Kebangsaan 2021. https://www.infosihat.gov.my/penerbitan-multimedia/garis-panduan/item/jadual-imunisasi-kebangsaan-terkini.html. Last accessed 18 July 2022.
- Immunise4Life. 5 Additional Recommended Vaccines for Children. Available from: https://immunise4life.my/5-additional-vaccines-for-children/. Last Accessed 13 Jun 2022.
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A Look at Each Vaccine: Rotavirus Vaccine. Available from: https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-details/rotavirus-vaccine. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- MyHealth. Rotavirus Vaccine. Available from: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/rotavirus-vaccine/. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About Chickenpox. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/index.html. Last Accessed 13 Jun 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chickenpox Transmission. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/transmission.html. Last Accessed 13 Jun 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chickenpox Prevention and Treatment. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/prevention-treatment.html. Last Accessed 13 Jun 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Key Facts About Influenza (Flu). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- Rothberg MB, Haessler SD, Brown RB. Complications of Viral Influenza. The American Journal of Medicine [Internet]. 2008:121(4).
- MyHealth. Jangkitan Virus Hepatitis A. Available from: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/jangkitan-virus-hepatitis-a/. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.
- MyHealth. Penyakit Meningitis (Meningococcal). Available from: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/penyakit-meningitis/. Last Accessed 02 Jun 2022.