13/05/2024 08:40 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 (Bernama) -- Despite evidence of adult immunisation being compelling, the coverage is still low in Malaysia compared to childhood vaccination where immunisation is covered by over 95 per cent under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP).

Consultant Geriatrician at Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City Dr Edward Chong Kah Chun said the coverage gap exposes these groups to potentially life-threatening illnesses, especially those that could be prevented with a vaccine.

"Immunisation efforts traditionally concentrate on children, overlooking the vital need for continued protection throughout adulthood.

“This is especially concerning as vaccine-preventable diseases typically can impact vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with multiple chronic illnesses, and immunocompromised individuals,” he said in a statement, today. 

According to some findings, vaccinations against 10 vaccine-preventable diseases in 73 low-and middle-income countries between 2001 and 2020 was estimated to have averted over 20 million deaths, saved US$350 billion and potentially increase economic productivity by US$820 billion.

Dr Edward said one such importance was the pneumococcal pneumonia and influenza vaccines for the vulnerable population with pneumonia, a formidable adversary in the array of vaccine-preventable diseases has been responsible for 11.1 per cent of deaths among Malaysians, making it the top three causes of death among Malaysians.

He said the most crucial vaccines that adults should seriously consider getting especially if they’re approaching their 60s or have been immunocompromised and have undergone cancer treatment or chemotherapy are the influenza (flu) vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine, Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, Hepatitis B vaccine and Meningococcal vaccines.

“The recommended age for the general population to consider essential vaccinations is 60 and above for the pneumococcal and influenza vaccines but it is important to consider other vaccines such as Tdap, especially if you share the household with newborn babies, infants or pregnant women to protect your loved ones from transmission of diseases. Influenza vaccines are also recommended every year,” he said.

 However, Dr Edward said the risks of non-vaccination was profound and multifaceted and he cautioned that any vaccine-preventable disease, if severe enough, is likely to result in irreversible complications to one's health.

He said there were numerous misconceptions about vaccination which may cause the public some concerns including the myth that ‘vaccines are only necessary for children’, when the fact is adult vaccination protects against diseases that are harmful or even fatal to the elderly and immunocompromised individuals for all stages of life.

He said vaccines are also thoroughly tested and monitored, offering a safer option than facing the diseases themselves and even healthy adults can benefit from vaccinations to prevent the spread of illness to more vulnerable populations, including the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

Dr Edward said adult immunisation is a matter of public health for everyone to advocate for adults to be proactive about their health and wellbeing especially when a vaccine can prevent it.




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