NIP it in the bud!

Do you know what vaccines are covered under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP)?

The NIP is intended to protect Malaysian children against 12 childhood diseases below. Government clinics or hospitals provide these vaccinations for free. They are available at private clinics or hospitals for a fee.

NIP protects against:

Tuberculosis: A disease that commonly infects the lungs, and can be fatal if left untreated. Can also affect other organs.

Tetanus: Also known as lockjaw, this bacteria causes painful muscle contractions (often the neck and jaw muscles), which makes it hard to open the mouth or swallow.

Hepatitis B: If infected during childhood, the risk of it becoming a chronic illness is high, and may lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Polio: An incurable viral disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord, leading to paralysis.

Mumps: A contagious disease that can cause inflammation of the brain or the tissues surrounding the brain/spinal cord.

Human papillomavirus (HPV): Most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes cervical cancer which is the third most common cancer in women.

Diphtheria: It affects the throat and complications include difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.

Pertussis: Also called whooping cough because of the sound made during bouts of uncontrollable, violent coughing. Pertussis can be deadly, especially for babies less than a year old.

Haemophilus influenzae type B: It can cause severe infections of both the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the bloodstream.

Measles: It can be a lot more serious than just a fever and skin rashes. In children under 5 years of age, it can lead to hospitalisation, brain swelling, and even death.

Rubella: Poses a danger to the foetus if a pregnant woman is infected. It can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects.

Japanese encephalitis (JE): May lead to brain inflammation (encephalitis), with symptoms such as sudden headaches, high fever, disorientation, coma, tremors and convulsions.

Combination vaccines

These refer to vaccines that target several diseases at once, meaning that your child would only need to be vaccinated once instead of multiple times. This also means fewer hospital visits will be required.

Combination vaccines are just as safe and effective as the individual vaccine. Examples include 6-in-1 vaccination (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B) or 3-in-1 vaccines (measles, mumps, rubella).

Don’t skip it

Refusing vaccinations can lead to dire consequences, with possible complications to pregnancy and unvaccinated kids will be more susceptible to the diseases that the NIP protects against (not to mention the possibility of life-threatening complications). There is the risk of your child becoming a carrier, spreading the disease to others.

Recent news reports have highlighted outbreaks of measles, diphtheria and pertussis in Malaysia, with several deaths reported among unvaccinated infants. These outbreaks have coincided with the growing anti-vaccination movement. Vaccination can help prevent these dangerous childhood diseases or at the very least reduce the severity of symptoms, so make it a point to comply with the NIP. Remember, vaccination saves lives!

An educational contribution by Malaysian Paediatric Association.

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