A milestone event, marking a concerted effort to respond to a long-unmet need – to help prevent adults from getting and spreading vaccine-preventable diseases.
Petaling Jaya, May 24, 2017 – The Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases & Chemotherapy (MSIDC) has launched Vaxin Check For Adults, the 1st programme of its kind in Malaysia to present vaccination recommendations for specific profiles, including parents & child minders, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, and travellers.
The launch was officiated by Dr Ravindran R Naidu, President of the Malaysian Medical Association.
It is a little-known fact that vaccine-preventable diseases continue to pose a significant threat to adults.
The dire consequences include suffering caused by the initial illnesses, deepening despair as even more serious complications set in, long periods of hospitalisation, mounting medical bills, as well as the depressing prospect that all this might end in permanent disability or death.
There is also another terrible outcome – discovering that one has unwittingly spread the diseases to loved ones, like the babies and children at home, the aged parents, or someone living with a weakened immune system.
Clearly, there is a need to educate the public that vaccination is protection and provide simple guidance on the vaccines that are required.
Adult vaccination recommendations should be evidence-based and are typically determined based on the parameters of Health, Age, Lifestyle and Occupation.
However, MSIDC expanded upon the H-A-L-O precept to formulate vaccination recommendations for specific profiles, namely, parents and child minders, people of advancing age, those with chronic diseases, and travellers, which includes business executives, holiday makers, students going abroad and pilgrims.
This is a distinctive feature of the Vaxin Check for Adults programme. You don’t need to be an expert to know which vaccines you need; you only need to know your life stage or circumstances at this time.
Elaborating on the various profiles, MSIDC President Professor Dr Zamberi Sekawi, said: “Parents and childminders should get vaccinated to prevent them from spreading diseases to babies and children who are too young or are unable to get vaccinated.
“In fact, we recommend that parents start considering vaccination from before they conceive; this is to help prevent birth defects that may be caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Vaccines for (would be) parents and childminders include influenza, MMR (measles, mumps & rubella), varicella (chicken pox), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria & pertussis) and polio.
Shifting his focus to the elderly, Professor Zamberi explained that vaccination provides protection against diseases that prey on weakened immune systems. “People above age 50 are advised to receive the influenza, pertussis, pneumococcal and shingles vaccines,” he remarked.
“Similarly, adults with chronic health conditions, like lung diseases, diabetes, heart disease and chronic liver disease, also need to be proactive to reduce the risk of infection. The influenza, pneumococcal, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are crucial for this group,” he explained.
As for those who travel, he said: “Vaccination protects against diseases that are endemic to certain regions. The recommended vaccines are influenza, pneumococcal, meningococcal, typhoid, hepatitis A, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis, and MMR vaccines.”
Lastly, Professor Zamberi advised that certain adult lifestyles call for additional vaccines. “For sexually active adults, the HPV and hepatitis B vaccines are recommended. For those who enjoy activities that carry the risk of wounds, the tetanus jab is necessary. For food lovers, the hepatitis A and typhoid fever vaccines are a must,” he remarked.
Also speaking at the launch was Associate Professor Dr Ariza Adnan, Vice-President of MSIDC, who used the case of influenza or the ‘flu’ to explain why so few adults choose to get vaccinated.
She said: “Many adults mistake vaccine-preventable diseases for other more innocuous illnesses. A classic example is how people confuse the flu with the common cold.
“People also tend to play down their risk of being infected by vaccine-preventable diseases, and do not realise that these diseases are complex and costly to treat.”
According to Professor Dr Yasmin A Malik, Chair of the Vaxin Check For Adults programme, various educational activities will be undertaken to promote vaccination to the different profiles.
“These will include blasting educational videos via social media, mounting articles on the Immunise4Life website, publishing write-ups and infographics in the newspapers, distributing leaflets, and putting up promotional materials in participating clinics,” she said.
Professor Yasmin also encouraged the public to use the Vaxin Check online directory of adult vaccination clinics. “This unique feature is intended to make it easier for the public to locate a clinic where they can discuss their vaccination needs with a suitably trained doctor.
The Vaxin Check directory was only initiated a few months ago. So the list of participating clinics is still growing to achieve the desired nationwide coverage eventually.
The online clinic directory and other information on adult immunisation can be accessed at www.ifl.my/vaxincheck.
The Vaxin Check For Adults programme is a community education initiative by MSIDC in association with Immunise4Life.