Pneumococcal vaccine available at public health facilities by December, says Noor Hisham

Pneumococcal vaccine available at public health facilities by December, says Noor Hisham
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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 24): The pneumococcal vaccination provided free under the National Immunisation Programme for Children, will be available at public health facilities beginning Dec 1.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) would be given in three doses, the two primary doses at the age of four and six months and the PCV booster administered at 15 months.

He said children born from Jan 1 2020 onwards are entitled to the PCV shots at the ministry’s health clinics.

“Parents must set an appointment with the clinics to avoid crowd so as to comply with the new norm in efforts to curb spread of Covid-19 infection,” he said in a statement here today.

He said for children who were born this year, aged five months and above, their pneumococcal immunisation would be adjusted according to their age.

According to Noor Hisham the type of vaccine to be used in the first two years of the programme’s implementation is PCV-10 (Synflorix), that would provide protection against 10 pneumococcus serotype bacteria, comprising serotype 1, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F, as well as cross-reactivity protection against serotype 19A.

He said the World Health Organization (WHO) global monitoring showed that, up to June 30 this year, a total of 156 countries had listed PCV under their national immunisation programmes

“Similar with other vaccines used in the National Immunisation Programme Schedule, the pneumococcal vaccine is effective and safe.

“To ensure all registered vaccines, that are being used in Malaysia remain safe, the adverse  events following immunisation (AEFI) of the vaccines are being closely monitored by the MoH's (Ministry of Health) National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA),” he said.

He said PCV had been used in private healthcare facilities in the country since 2009 and no serious safety issues were reported. 

However, he said, as it is a new vaccine under the National Immunisation Programme, the ministry would conduct AEFI monitoring for every child after administration of each dose.

“For this purpose, parents must report any adverse effects experienced by their children to the health personnel after each dose, by returning the reporting form, regardless the severity including mild reaction such as redness at the injection spot.

“Besides that, parents can also report the adverse effects directly to the NPRA via its website npra.gov.my by filling up the Consumer Side Effect Reporting Form (CONSERF),” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said parents with children born this year, who had already been administered one or two doses of the pneumococcal vaccine at private health clinics, could choose to complete the immunisation at either private or MoH facilities.

However, he said, vaccination charges at private facilities may vary depending on the different healthcare providers.  

“Parents who opt to complete their children’s pneumococcal immunisation at MoH health clinics are advised to bring their children’s immunisation records, to ease scheduling,” he said, adding that any enquiries on the matter could be directed to the MoH by contacting 03-8883 4003 on Monday to Friday (excluding public holiday) from 9am to 5pm, or through [email protected], or by visiting any public health clinics nearby.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, the vaccine is given to prevent diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria infection, also known as pneumococcus, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, ear inflammation (otitis media), meningitis and septicaemia.

“Complications from pneumococcal diseases include ear disability, brain damage and death, as such pneumococcal vaccination to children is aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality rate due to pneumococcal diseases among children under five.

“This will reduce treatment cost and complications ... although the diseases could be treated by antibiotic, there are several pneumococcus bacteria strains that are antibiotic-resistant,” he explained, stressing that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pneumococcus bacteria infection and indirectly decrease antibiotic-resistance.