THE Malaysian Thoracic Society (MTS), supported by Pfizer Malaysia, has launched You Are Our Best Shot – an integrated public awareness campaign to encourage pneumococcal vaccination among older adults as an integral part of healthy ageing and public health.
Launched in conjunction with World Immunisation Week, the campaign is anchored by digital resource hub PreventPneumonia.com.my.
The website provides information on pneumococcal pneumonia, engagement tools such as risk factor quiz, guidance on disease prevention, downloadable patient leaflet, as well as video stories of “vaccine heroes” to inspire Malaysians to take charge of their health and expand prevention through vaccination.
An online survey was conducted by MTS in early April on how much Malaysians know about pneumococcal pneumonia, their behavioural patterns in relation to healthcare choices, and their perceptions on vaccination.
The survey was supported by Pfizer Malaysia.
More than half of the respondents (62%) are not aware that pneumococcal pneumonia can be prevented through vaccination, and many also believe that only babies and children are susceptible to the disease.
In fact, older adults (50 and above) are predisposed to the disease because of their impaired gag reflex, impaired mucociliary function, declining immunity, and presence of comorbid conditions.
This is especially worrying because Malaysia is expected to be an ageing nation by 2030, and it is projected that 15% of its population would be 60 and above.
“In an ageing population with a high burden of vaccine-preventable diseases such as pneumococcal pneumonia, vaccines are equally as important in adults as they are in children, ” said MTS president Dr Pang Yong Kek, who is a senior consultant respiratory physician.
“Older adults have a far higher risk of contracting infections and severe complications than younger people, and their impact is often greater, with poorer outcomes, ” she added.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) bacteria.
People with the disease can spread the bacteria to others when they cough or sneeze.