Additional polio vaccination for all kids under five years
Published on: Monday, December 16, 2019
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KUALA LUMPUR: All children under five years old in Sabah will be given an additional immunisation which will be made in stages to ensure the proliferation of the polio virus can be stopped.

“A methodical plan is being drawn up and the giving of the additional immunisation will be implemented as soon as possible,’’ said Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) in a statement Sunday.

Currently, he said, immunisations for children who had missed the procedure in the area where a polio case was confirmed and its surroundings had been implemented to ensure the polio immunisation coverage was boosted.

Until Dec 14, 2019, 59 children, from two months to 15 years, in the areas which had been overlooked for immunisations, had been given the polio vaccine. All the children involved were non-citizens, he said.

On Dec 8, the media reported that a three-month-old baby from Tuaran, Sabah was infected by the polio virus, namely, the first case after 27 years Malaysia was free of the disease.

Dr Noor Hisham said infectious diseases like polio were borderless and the best way to prevent them is through immunisations.

“As such, parents are urged to ensure children who have missed immunisations are taken to the nearby Health Clinics. A rescheduling of immunisations for children who have been overlooked will be done depending on suitability,’’ he said.

He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) too would contact the World Health Organisation (WHO) directly to obtain the latest information on the global polio situation.

He said MOH was also refining co-operation with the United Nation Children’s Fund (Unicef) to obtain vaccine supplies at a low cost (subsidised by Unicef) for a programme to immunise non-citizens in Sabah.

The giving of the vaccine would be implemented through selected non-government organisations (NGOs).

He said the activities to detect Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) cases, which showed a symptom akin to poliomyelitis, (namely, a proxy to poliomyelitis) in the area of residence of the baby concerned, were now being widened to nearby and high risk areas.

A total 1,553 people had been inspected, and none with the AFP symptoms had been detected, he said, adding that samples of faeces from 20 close contacts of the baby had been taken for laboratory tests and were waiting for the results.

Meanwhile, in IPOH, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the cost of purchasing a supply of vaccines to be given to foreigners will be announced soon.

He said the ministry would discuss the matter with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) next week.

“For the time being, we are focusing more on efforts to control polio before looking at the need for vaccinations for other diseases,” he told reporters after officiating the Placemaking Festival 2019 at the GRC Convention Hall, Sunday.

Asked on plans to make vaccination mandatory for children, Dr Lee said at the moment, there was no need for the ministry to do so.


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