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Vaccinate your child, parents told

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has advised parents to vaccinate their children against diphtheria.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said diphtheria has a high death rate and that it is crucial to immunise children against it.

According to the World Health Organisation, diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria, which primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs.

Its main characteristics include sore throat, low fever and swollen glands in the neck, and the toxin may, in severe cases, cause myocarditis or peripheral neuropathy.

Noor Hisham said diphtheria immunisation is part of the five-dose vaccination DTaP-IPV/Hib (Diphtheria , Pertussis , Tetanus , Polio and Haemophilus Influenza Type B).

"The vaccine is given at the age of two, three and five months as prime dose, and at 18 months as additional dose.

"This immunisation provides protection from contracting the bacteria," he said in a statement.

He added that if a patient is suspected to be suffering from the illness, anti-toxin will be administered immediately, regardless of the laboratory results, as the toxin spreading in the body is fatal.

"A person suspected of diphtheria requires seven or eight vials of anti-toxin, costing RM500 per vial, as compared to RM34 for vaccination per dose, which protects one from five kinds of diseases," he said.

He also noted that since vaccination for diphtheria was included in the National Children Immunisation Programme in 1972, cases of the illness have decreased dramatically.

"In the past five years, the highest number of diphtheria cases in Malaysia was four cases in 2013, which includes two deaths reported at the rate of 0.01 per 100,000 people," he said.

Noor Hisham said the latest case of diphtheria was recorded in Kampung Bukit Malut, Langkawi in November last year, when an eight-year-old who was not vaccinated died due to complications of the illness.

Source: The Sun Daily (
Date: 6 January 2016 - 12:09am

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