Be Wise, Get Immunised!
Time to roll up your sleeves for the vaccines, kids.
Recently, the news of three emerging polio cases have shaken Malaysians, especially those with kids. Polio is a contagious viral illness from the poliovirus, which can cause severe nerve injury, leading to paralysis, difficulty in breathing, and sometimes even death1, especially in children. Since 2000, Malaysia has successfully eradicated polio, and was declared as being polio-free since then. However, in December 2019, Malaysia has reported its first polio case in three decades. Subsequently, two other cases were reported in January 2020 involving an 11- and 8-year-olds who were not administered with the polio vaccine. This news has shocked Malaysians and led to a heated online argument between those who vaccinate their kids and the “anti-vaxxers”, those who do not.
What Are Vaccines?
Vaccines are substances that help prepare your child’s body to fight off diseases, germs, and pathogens by imitating an infection2. These vaccines trick the body into making a “memory” of the germ, without having to ever fight against the infection. Thus, when a child encounters the real pathogen, their body is ready to attack it and as a result, they don’t get sick.
In Malaysia, all children up to the age of 15 are recommended to receive vaccinations on a schedule, as released by the Ministry of Health Malaysia under the National Immunisation Programme, up to the age of 15.
During this period, vaccines to fight against tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, and tetanus, amongst others, are administered. These vaccinations are given for free under the National Immunisation Programme, where it can be obtained at your nearest government health clinic and at a private clinic with a small fee. The full schedule is published as a guide for healthcare personnel and parents, which can be found .
Should I Vaccinate My Child?
“I read that vaccinations cause autism!” is a common phrase passed around to scare new parents to avoid vaccinating their child. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2013 reports that vaccines, in fact, does not cause autism3. Young children are most vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases due to their weaker immune system. When vaccines are administered, it helps strengthen the children’s immune system and protect them from any life-threatening complications.
Vaccines may produce undesirable side effects, such as pain and redness at the injection site or sometimes fever, but reactions are usually mild and go away very quickly. It’s never possible to predict exactly who may have reactions to vaccinations, and those who may not. Not to fret mummies and daddies, because the Ministry of Health Malaysia continuously monitors the vaccines safety. If there are any concerns or adverse side-effects after receiving or administrating a vaccine, report to the ministry through a phone call at +60 3-7883 5400 or via email at [email protected].
There’s no guarantee that a child will always be free from infection and vaccine-preventable diseases. Even if your child is infected by the disease, it will be mild and not fatal with the help of vaccinations. So, YES, your child should definitely be vaccinated.
It’s Fine If You Want to Be Fined
The Government is talking serious business when it comes to combating the anti-vaccination movement. Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister, Hannah Yeoh states that the ministry takes the issue of not vaccinating children very seriously. According to Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, a person who cares for a child but abuses, neglects, abandons or exposes a child in any manner that will likely cause physical or emotional injury will face a fine up to RM20,000, jail time up to 10 years, or both.
In November 2019, Dr. Zulkefly Ahmad, Minister of Health Malaysia has announced that the decision to make immunisation compulsory will be revealed soon4.
*This is the personal opinion of the writer*
This article has been republished with permission from Kiddy123.