With most people now back to their old routines and life gaining some semblance of normality, there is an increased risk of exposure to old common infectious diseases, including chickenpox and rotavirus, especially for school children.
Give Health A Shot is a community effort by Merck Sharp & Dohme Sdn Bhd (MSD). The project aims to increase the awareness of vaccine preventable diseases such as chickenpox and rotavirus in children through a comprehensive content hub, with emphasis on the importance of prevention.
Young children can be exposed to chickenpox and the rotavirus in their daily life and prevention plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthier lifestyle for families and communities.
This campaign is coming at an opportune time in re-educating parents about the preventive measures that can be taken about diseases such as chickenpox and rotavirus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published a news release in July 2022 announcing the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in 30 years, with lockdowns contributing to this drop, limiting parents’ access to immunisation services. The World Health Organization (WHO) views vaccines as a critical tool in the prevention and control of infectious diseases1.
In a media statement, former Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in the number of immunisations at health clinics as parents were worried about the spread of COVID-192. He was quoted saying, “All parents and guardians are advised to check their children’s immunisation records, if they have missed any, get a new appointment at the health clinic.”
MSD’s awareness campaign echoes the Ministry of Health’s reminder for children to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases with the aim to educate and encourage parents in Malaysia to take preventative steps in fighting against chickenpox and rotavirus.
Rotavirus is a prevalent virus and highly contagious disease which spreads easily among infants and young children. The virus can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting that can lead to severe dehydration among infants and young children. Additionally, it also causes fever and stomach pain. Almost every child worldwide is exposed to rotavirus by the age of five. In Malaysia, between 22% and 50% of the cases of all diarrhoea in children are caused by rotavirus3.
A World Health Organization 2021 position paper on rotavirus stated that the virus was the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhoea in children under the age of five, which resulted in an estimated more than 500,000 childhood deaths and over 2 million hospitalisations worldwide in 2000. Those statistics demonstrated the need for effective interventions early in life to reduce the global burden of severe rotavirus gastroenteritis (RVGE)4.
In 2010, the WHO recommended the use of rotavirus vaccines as part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhoeal diseases, together with other prevention and treatment efforts5. According to consultant paediatrician Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, “The Malaysian Paediatric Association has been advocating for the rotavirus vaccine to be included in the national immunisation programme (NIP) for a while now.”
Chickenpox, on the other hand, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which also causes shingles later in life. Its symptoms include fever and a blister-like rash6 and chickenpox can easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes or when an individual comes in contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person7.
Even though chickenpox is usually mild, there are possible complications that can arise for example infection of the skin, bloodstream, pneumonia or inflammation of the brain7. Preventive action is important as it minimises risk and helps reduce mortality8. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat and preventive measures such as good hygiene practices and appropriate vaccination play a role in maintaining public health by keeping children protected and helps provide protection for not just one child but other children as well8.
The Give Health A Shot Campaign is now live at https://my.theasianparent.com/category/kesihatan-bm/vaksinasi/give-health-a-shot-bm where parents and the general public will have access to a wide range of resources and information around vaccine-preventable diseases, stories from other parents and educational videos too.
The campaign hopes to reach out to over a million parents in Malaysia to inform, educate and ignite a sense of urgency in them to take action to help protect their children through the different preventive measures.
“We have a responsibility to ensure parents have access to reliable and relevant information about vaccine-preventable diseases at their fingertips,” says Pang Lai Li, Managing Director, MSD Singapore & Malaysia. “We are seeing a worrying trend of parents skipping vaccinations because they are afraid to bring their children out to healthcare facilities with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and the presence of other diseases like hand, foot and mouth or monkeypox.”
“We hope that through the Give Health A Shot campaign and content hub that is made readily available to parents, that they will seriously take into consideration their child’s health and safety with protective measures including good hygiene practices and appropriate vaccination,” added Lai Li.
Check out the Give Health A Shot Campaign website and speak to your doctor regarding any concerns you may have, Including protection for your children in time for the new school year!
For over 130 years, MSD has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.
Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals — including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.msd-malaysia.com and connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
- World Health Organization. Covid-19 pandemic fuels largest continued backslide in vaccinations in three decades. Available From: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2022-covid-19-pandemic-fuels-largest-continued-backslide-in-vaccinations-in-three-decades. Last Accessed: 24 Aug 2022.
- New Straits Times. MOH to Trace Babies, children who missed immunisation during MCO – Noor Azmi. Available From: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/06/805602/moh-trace-babies-children-who-missed-immunisation-during-mco-noor-azmi. Last Accessed: 24 Aug 2022.
- PORTAL MyHEALTH. Rotavirus vaccine. Available From: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/rotavirus-vaccine/. Last Accessed: 24 Aug 2022.
- World Health Organization. Rotavirus vaccines: Who position paper – july 2021 – Vaccins antirotavirus : Note de Synthèse de l’OMS – juillet 2021. Weekly Epidemiological Record [Internet]. 2021;28(16).
- World Health Organization. Global use of rotavirus vaccines recommended. Available From: https://www.who.int/news/item/11-12-2010-global-use-of-rotavirus-vaccines-recommended. Last Accessed: 23 Aug 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About chickenpox. Available From: https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/index.html#:~:text=Chickenpox%20is%20a%20highly%20contagious,250%20and%20500%20itchy%20blisters. Last Accessed: 23 Aug 2022.
- Portal MyHealth. Chickenpox. Available From: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/chickenpox/. Last Accessed: 23 Aug 2022.
- Rodrigues CMC & Plotkin SA Impact of Vaccines; Health, Economic and Social Perspectives. Frontiers in microbiology [Internet], 2020:11(1526).