Not vaccinating children endangers society

05 Jun 2016 / 17:30 H.

    PETALING JAYA: Some parents are choosing not to vaccinate children as they fear the side-effects that these vaccines may bring, among other reasons.
    But health experts have warned that not vaccinating babies may lead to a host of other potentially more serious problems.
    Dr Rohani Jahis, head of Disease Control Division of the Health Ministry, said the move of not vaccinating babies and children, which is becoming rampant, could also lower "herd immunity", thus endangering others.
    Herd immunity, or community immunity, is when a critical portion of a community is immunised against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak.
    "Babies who are not vaccinated are not protected against the strains of virus or bacteria, thus making them vulnerable to diseases. And if there are many who are not vaccinated in the society, this would bring down the herd immunity. This leaves the society vulnerable to diseases which they were previously protected from," she told theSun.
    "Even those who are not able to take certain vaccines, like infants, pregnant women, or immuno-compromised individuals get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as community immunity or herd immunity. When there are many in the community not vaccinated, this level of defence is lowered and leaves others in danger," she explained.
    In 2015, the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) received a total of 185 adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) reports involving children out of approximately 5.4 million doses of vaccine given under the Health Ministry. (AEFI refers to any negative side-effect following vaccination.)
    "Most AEFI cases reported involve minor reactions such as injection site reactions, fever and rash, which disappear after a few days. It is usually not possible to predict who may have a mild reaction and who may have a more serious reaction to a vaccine. Before vaccines are marketed commercially for use, they are rigorously tested on thousands of people in progressively larger clinical trials which are strictly monitored for safety," she added.
    The Drug Control Authority must register and approve a vaccine before it can be used in Malaysia.
    The Health Ministry continuously monitors these adverse events through a reporting system under the NPCB.
    Meanwhile, Rohani accepts that vaccines may not be 100% effective as different people respond differently to vaccines, and it is possible that some people may not generate an adequate immune response to the vaccine.
    "The number of children infected with diseases despite vaccination is very low. For example, in 2015, among 1,318 cases of measles reported that year, about 42% were those not vaccinated and 33% those not due for measles vaccination yet. The rest claimed they have received measles vaccination."
    All the adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports, including AEFI, are received at the National Centre for Adverse Drug Reactions Monitoring where the reports would be assessed prior to presenting it to the Malaysian Adverse Drug Reaction Advisory Committee (Madrac).
    The public can make AEFI reports on the portal

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