Make rotavirus vaccination a must

The Sun Daily

By Pauline Wong
February 21, 2012

PETALING JAYA (Feb 20, 2012): Paediatricians are urging the Health Ministry to make vaccination against the deadly rotavirus compulsory under the national immunisation programme.

In light of an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) associated with the rotavirus in Perak last week, these doctors want the ministry to include the vaccines in the national vaccination schedule, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.

Academy of Medicine of Malaysia College of Paediatrics president Prof Lee Way Seah and Asia-Pacific Paediatric Association president-elect Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail in a joint letter today said two vaccines have been available in Malaysia since 2009.

“Both vaccines have been found to be highly effective and safe in the prevention of rotavirus infection in infants,” they said.

“We urge the government to consider including rotavirus vaccine as part of our national immunisation programme for Malaysian children,” they added.

Rotavirus, which is named for its pinwheel-like appearance, is a fatal virus which causes diarrhoea, vomiting, severe dehydration and fever.

It is related to almost 50% of all childhood AGE cases; and AGE is the second leading cause of death among children under five years old.

According to WHO, some 10 million young children die from AGE annually.

Locally, the recent outbreak of AGE in Perak, which began on Jan 27, has thus far resulted in the deaths of two infants aged two and 10 months, due to suspected rotavirus infection.

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