KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 -- The Ministry of Health (MOH) has highlighted that immunisation programmes at health facilities continue as usual and wants parents to adhere to the set immunisation schedules and appointments.
Director-General of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said parents who had gone back to their hometowns have to set an appointment for their children's immunisation at any nearby health clinic or private clinic to avoid immunisation delay.
He said a delay in immunisation could put their children at increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio.
This could also lead to an outbreak of such diseases that could be life-threatening if it could not be contained, he added.
“In our effort to break the chain of COVID-19 infection with the recommendations from WHO (World Health Organisation), children's immunisation schedule must be followed to maintain a high level of herd immunity,” he said in a statement here today in conjunction with World Immunisation Week that falls each year from April 24 to 30.
This year’s theme - #VaccinesWork For All - has been selected by WHO to promote immunisation as well as its importance to protect mankind from all walks of life from contracting vaccine-preventable diseases.
Dr Noor Hisham said it is well known that immunisation has been proven as among the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions in reducing incidents including death from a vaccine-preventable diseases.
He added that history and facts had proven that immunisation has saved millions of lives worldwide.
However, for the past couple of years, several countries have experienced outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio.
Malaysia was also shocked with the re-emergence of a polio case in Dec 2019 after the country was declared polio-free since 27 years ago.
“To date, there have been four polio cases confirmed through laboratory tests as well as two polio compatible cases that met the clinical features of polio, all of which occurred in Sabah,” Dr Noor HIsham said.
On measles cases, he said there was a decrease by 1,077 cases last year compared to 1,958 cases in 2018 nationwide. However, the number of deaths increased to 15 in 2019, compared to six in 2018.
Meanwhile, a total of 915 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have been recorded with 20 deaths in 2019, which is an increase from the 892 cases with 22 deaths in 2018. Meantime, 16 Diphtheria cases were recorded with six deaths last year compared to 18 cases with six deaths in 2018, he explained.
“The majority of these cases were due to not getting the vaccine injections. There were also cases of infants who had not to reached the appropriate age to receive the vaccine,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
On behalf of MOH, he also expressed all round appreciation to individuals and organisations who had contributed to the success of immunisation programmes, particularly to the medical frontliners involved in providing the vaccine and the public for their support. -- BERNAMA