Pneumococcal vaccination for kids to be expanded

PUTRAJAYA: The free pneumococcal vaccination programme will be expanded to those born between 2018 and 2019 starting June 1, says the Health Ministry.

Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the programme would be expanded because unvaccinated children below the age of five are at risk of invasive pneumococcal disease and are exposed to complications.

“The nationwide pneumococcal vaccination programme will start on June 1 until May 31 next year and it will involve the ministry’s primary healthcare facilities,” she said when launching the “Catch-up on Pneumococcal Immunisation” programme on National Immunisation Day yesterday.

In December 2020, the government included pneumococcal vaccination in the National Immunisation Programme for those who born in January that year.

Dr Zaliha said the ministry is targeting to inoculate 70% or 700,000 of the one million children aged four to five under the two-year programme.

There will be only one pneumococcal vaccine dose administered to four- to five-year-olds compared with the three doses given out in stages for babies at four and six months old and 15 months for the third or booster dose.

“Those looking to set an appointment for the vaccination can do so via the MySejahtera app,” she added.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by the streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) bacteria which will cause a range of infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and sinus, and could lead to severe infections.

“Our officers will continue to track children who were left out from immunisation programmes or who missed any of their scheduled vaccinations to ensure adequate coverage against infectious diseases and also minimise the risk of infection,” Dr Zaliha said.

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