Home > Lifestyle > Health
Sunday March 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday May 23, 2013 MYT 3:37:58 PM
by datuk dr musa mohd nordin
Vaccinations prevent severe illnesses and even deaths, with children benefiting more from vaccines than from any other preventive programmes in history.
VACCINATING your child against pneumococcal infections means protecting him/her from pneumonia, septicaemia, otitis media, and meningitis.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control, the introduction of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in the US led to a major drop in the recorded instances of pneumococcal infections amongst children under five .
PCV was first introduced in the US in 2000 as a mandatory vaccination. Immediate results could be seen – invasive pneumococcal infection rates dropped by 97%, and herd immunity also accounted for reduced incidence of disease in older children and adults.
The pneumococcal vaccine was first introduced in Malaysia in 2005, but has yet to be included in our National Immunisation Programme. It is however, part of the list of vaccines that are recommended by the Health Ministry. Unfortunately for MH, the advent of this vaccine came too late as she lost her daughter RA, who was only five months old, to pneumococcal meningitis in 2004.
MH still vividly remembers her last moments with her daughter, and the speed at which events happened left her and her family with no time to prepare for the sad events that culminated with RA’s passing (as it took place over a period of only about four days).
It began on Feb 1, 2004, when MH brought RA to see a doctor because she was sick. That night, everything seemed normal. In the wee hours of the morning, RA’s temperature spiked again, and MH was up practically the whole night to monitor RA’s condition.
After using a suppository, her fever was under control.
RA was fine the next day, but two days later, her fever returned. MH quickly brought RA for a follow-up visit to her paediatrician. Other than her fever, there were no other symptoms. MH was reassured and went home with RA.
However, on Feb 4, 2004, despite the fact that there was no fever, MH suspected something amiss. RA was not her usual self and was unusually cranky. Since RA just recovered from her fever, MH was very worried, so she brought RA for another visit to her paediatrician first thing in the morning.
Upon seeing the child, the paediatrician immediately took her to the Intensive Care Unit and took various blood tests and a lumbar puncture. The baby was immediately started on intravenous antibiotics and her respiration was supported with a respirator due to her poor breathing.
The blood tests and cerebrospinal fluid examination confirmed that RA had bacterial meningitis. Despite the antibiotics and close monitoring in the ICU, she succumbed to her illness.
All the investigations confirmed that she had a fulminating episode of pneumococcal septicaemia and meningitis
Sadly, MH’s heart-breaking experience has not made much of an impact on her other family members and friends, all of whom still prefer not to vaccinate their children with the pneumococcal vaccine. Instead, they prefer to leave matters to chance.
This situation is quite prevalent among many parents who are still refusing to even consider vaccinating their children with PCV.
The spectrum of diseases caused by pneumococcus is largely preventable, and as such, wilfully denying your child this vaccination might mean toying with the fine line between life and death.
It may not be a well-known fact, but despite the best possible intensive medical care available or the best antibiotics, once an unprotected child is infected by pneumococcus, modern medicine may not be able to save his/her life.
It is not too late to vaccinate older children who have not received this vaccine before. The adage “prevention is better than cure” may sound awfully clichéd, yet it still remains relevant. Don’t hesitate to protect your little ones before it’s too late.
1. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-pcv.pdf – Active Bacterial Core Surveillance (ABCs) Report; Emerging Infections Program Network; Streptococcus pneumoniae [database online]. Center for Disease Control website: CDC; 2010. Updated APRIL 2012.
2. Committee on Infectious Diseases; American Academy of Pediatrics. Pneumococcal Infections. In: Pickering LK, Baker CJ, Long SS, McMillan JA. Red Book 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:525-335.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Invasive pneumococcal disease in children 5 years after conjugate vaccine introduction--eight states, 1998-2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. Feb 15 2008;57(6):144-8.
Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin is a consultant paediatrician and neonatologist. This article is courtesy of Positive Parenting Programme by the Malaysian Paediatric Association, supported by an educational grant from Pfizer. The opinions expressed in the article are the views of the author. For further information, please visit www.mypositiveparenting.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
Tags / Keywords:
Health, child health, vaccine
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)