Optional Vaccines

There are deadly diseases out there. The good news is, you can protect your child by vaccinating her – a list of mandatory vaccinations recommended by The Ministry of Health and the Malaysian Paediatric Association ensures this.

But this is not all. Did you know there are optional vaccines you can consider? You might be wondering why these are necessary when your child has already received her standard early childhood vaccinations. Well, here are answers to the questions parents commonly ask: “Why should I consider optional vaccines?” Optional vaccines have been shown to be a safe and effective method to protect your child from unnecessary suffering and the risk of complications from seemingly innocuous diseases.

What Are My Options?

“Are there any side effects?”

There are risks in even the most routine of activities. We eat breakfast even though 200 people die annually from food stuck in their windpipe. Similarly, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. Side effects, if any, will mainly be local reactions such as pain, tenderness and swelling at the injection site. Systemic side effects are rare, and are usually a low grade fever.

“Is there a maximum to the number of vaccines my child can receive?”

An infant’s immune system has an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines as well as to the many germs in the environment. Current scientific evidence does NOT support the notion that multiple vaccines overwhelm, weaken or use up the immune system.

“But aren’t optional vaccines costly?”

All of the vaccines in our national immunisation schedule are cost beneficial. For example: for every ringgit we spend on the Hib (Haemophilus influenzae b) vaccine, we save RM3. This is possible because of the universal and widespread use of the vaccine, enabling a drop in the cost of the vaccine. The newer vaccines are relatively more expensive.

“These optional vaccines are obviously effective. But why then are they not included in the mandatory vaccines list?”

Most of the new vaccines such as Hepatitis B, MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) and Hib, when first introduced in the country, were prescribed in the private health sector. Their proven efficacy, safety and later, decrease in prices, enabled them to be included into the Ministry of Health’s immunisation schedule after a careful “Health Technology Assessment”.

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