‘Vaccination is everyone’s job’

National 3 minutes, 56 seconds


VACCINES are the most effective way to protect us and our children from life-threatening illnesses. It is with this in mind that the Ministry of Health marks the Regional Immunisation Week 2016 from April 24-30, 2016. The theme is especially relevant, ‘Vaccination is everyone’s job, protect your community. Immunise all throughout life.’

Diseases that vaccines prevent continue to pose a threat to the health of individuals, families and communities in Brunei Darussalam.

Measles can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death. Mumps can lead to deafness and meningitis.

Unvaccinated children are 23 times more likely to get whooping cough compared to fully immunised children.

The Ministry of Health has strong immunisation programmes against various vaccine-preventable diseases including the National Childhood Immunization Programme for 0-5 years, and the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccination Programme in schools.

These vaccines are free, safe and protect your child from harmful diseases.

This Regional Immunisation Week, the Ministry of Health aims to raise awareness of diseases that are preventable through immunisation, and to encourage individuals, families and communities to get vaccinated.

The theme supports the ministry’s three strategic priorities which are to deliver excellent services, prevent and control non-communicable diseases and importantly to ensure health is everyone’s business. There is no action that an individual can take, which is as clinically effective and as cost-effective as vaccination, to safeguard their own health and well-being.

While many vaccinations are administered in early childhood, vaccination has a role to play throughout all stages of life.

Even before the birth of an infant, tetanus and influenza vaccinations are administered in pregnant women to protect both the mothers and babies against diseases.

At birth, babies are given both Hepatitis B and BCG vaccinations as the first immunisation against infectious disease.

Throughout a child’s life, they are immunised according to the standardised protocol of the National Immunisation Programme. For the past two decades, the National Immunisation Programme has achieved high annual national immunisation coverage of almost 100 per cent.

Since the start of the National Immunisation Programme, Brunei Darussalam has achieved Hepatitis B control in 2013 and measles elimination in 2015.

The last case of polio in Brunei Darussalam was in 1978. Despite these significant achievements, as a community we cannot be complacent.

The experience of other countries which have previously achieved measles elimination show that when vaccination rates decline, the disease can return and result in significant illness and even death among some children.

We live in a global society. That has an impact on the way diseases spread today. Whooping cough, measles, and mumps still proliferate in other countries and are just a plane ride away from unprotected children. We must ensure that we continue to protect ourselves and our children.

As we age, we start protecting ourselves from other important vaccine-preventable diseases. The Human Papilloma Virus is a significant cause of cervical cancer.

The vaccination programme for this virus was introduced in schools in 2012 in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, for girls aged 11 to 12 and now shows a national coverage of over 90 per cent.

Patients with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes or heart diseases have higher risks of infections compared to others and when they do get infections, their illness tends to be more severe.

It is therefore important that they get immunised annually for influenza vaccines. These vaccines are available in all health centres in the country and in the vaccination centre.

Diseases spread faster in communities with higher percentages of unvaccinated people.

The more people are vaccinated, the less likely a disease can transfer from person to person. That is called “herd” immunity.

This is why vaccinating ourselves and our child protects not just the individual being vaccinated, but all others, including those who are too young or unable to be vaccinated.

In particular, the population of newborns who are still too young to be vaccinated will be very vulnerable to diseases and has higher chance of getting serious complications if infected.

It is therefore the responsibility of each and every person to get themselves and their children vaccinated. If you are unsure about your vaccination status and or are concerned about a specific disease, speak to your doctor or nurse.

The Ministry of Health needs the continued support and active involvement of all in the community – individuals, families, and other stakeholders including schools to be vigilant and work together to maintain and enhance the coverage of all immunisation across all ages to avoid the resurgence of dangerous diseases and the unnecessary illness associated with them, and do our part in protecting and promoting a healthy Brunei Darussalam.

The message was made by Health Minister YB Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi on the occasion of Regional Immunisation Week 2016.

The Brunei Times