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WHEN the doctor informed her of an option to vaccinate her children against pneumoccocal disease, Nina Masliha Sulaiman Najidi, 29, decided not to do it.
Although she had heard about the disease, she felt that it was unnecessary since the vaccination was not part of the National Immunisation Programme. In addition, the doctor did not stress the importance of getting it, merely saying that the vaccine was “optional”.
“I heard of the penumococcal vaccination when I was pregnant with my first daughter. The doctor told me it was optional. He, however, did not tell me about the consequences if the vaccination was not taken.
“I was not aware that the disease could cause pneumonia, meningitis and blood infection. The vaccine was expensive too, between RM250 and RM300 per injection. And at least
five doses were required.”
It was a decision that Nina Masliha now regrets. Last month, her eldest daughter, Arina Aishah Azizul Arif, 3, was admitted for persistent coughing.
Initially, she was suspected of suffering from pneumococcal pneumonia. However, it was later confirmed that she had lung infection and pneumonia from an airborne virus.
Her second daughter, Anis Afrina, 7 months, was born with acute bronchitis. Because of her condition, she had to spend more time in the hospital.
“After Arina was suspected to have pneumococcal pneumonia, I realised I had made the wrong decision of not getting them vaccinated.
“Since lung infection is quite common among children, it is advisable that children get vaccinated. Prevention is better than cure.”
Nina Masliha says she is now more informed about the disease. She realises that pneumoccocal disease can be fatal. In some cases, it can result in long-term problems such as brain damage and loss of hearing.
When her children were in the hospital, she found that the majority of children were admitted for acute bronchitis and pneumonia. Although her daughters were not infected with the pneumococcal disease bacteria, she made the decision to have them vaccinated once their health improved. Arina would need only one injection while Anis would need three.
“The doctor told me the virus evolves quickly. Even though vaccination doesn’t prevent infection, it helps reduce the more serious risks.
“Personally, I think the rotavirus and pneumoccocal vaccines should be included in the government’s immunisation programme.”