More flu vaccines arriving soon in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA, 18 Jan 2020: 

About 200,000 influenza vaccine doses are being brought into the country this month and the next, to meet high demand for immunisation.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said 16,800 doses arrived today.

Another 15,000 doses will arrive on Monday, while 67,000 doses will arrive on Jan 27 – bringing the total number of doses imported into the country this month to close to 100,000.

The remaining 100,000 doses will be acquired in the next two to three weeks, he said after officiating the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) Health Carnival at the Peladang Building in Jalan Templer, here today.

The carnival is being held today in 11 states across the country to emphasise the importance of health among the public.

The minister also urged all healthcare service providers not to take advantage of the current epidemic by profiteering and overcharging patients for the vaccine at preposterous prices.

He said although it is up to providers to set the price of the influenza vaccine – in view of the fact that it is not categorised as a controlled medicine – a reasonable price should not exceed RM100.

“We need to work together to help combat the disease as the demand and supply have become six times higher.

“We have yet to receive any complaints from the public on the matter… but the public is free to do so if they encounter any irresponsible healthcare providers.”

Earlier in his speech, Dr. Dzulkefly called on all Malaysians to “take responsibility for their own health, adopt healthy habits from a young age and live healthy lifestyles, or retirement funds and savings will be spent on hospital bills… this is the painful reality”.

“It is my hope that more Malaysians will understand the importance of health in all we do, and without health, we may not even progress to our fullest potential in our careers… our nation’s productivity and finances can also be affected,”

Meanwhile, MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said if you’re planning on travelling overseas, it will do you good to be vaccinated for influenza a month before you depart as this will strengthen your immune system and antibodies.

“Vaccination does not only protect the patient but others from being infected with the influenza virus which can bring about other complications such as pneumonia, particularly among high-risk groups such as children.”

Dr Ganabaskaran explained that among the reasons why patients are easily infected with the virus are weather changes which can weaken one’s immune system, and this situation is often experienced by those who travel overseas.

On ways to prevent the spread of the virus, he said each individual – including those who are infected – needs to prioritise prevention over treatment, and those who don’t feel well or experience influenza symptoms should seek urgent treatment at a health facility.

Dr Ganabaskaran further encouraged the adoption of good practices such as covering one’s mouth and nose with tissue or a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing, and to reduce outdoor activities to avoid spreading the virus.

A healthy diet with plenty of high-fibre food, protein and vitamin C will boost the body’s immune system so it can fight the virus, he said, while advising that fried and spicy food should be avoided.

“Drink warm water constantly to ensure your throat is moist. Don’t let it become dry because the virus can attack in a matter of just 10 minutes.”

Dr Hanisah Akbar Tajudin, a medical practitioner for 10 years and resident at Klinik As-Salam in Lembah Keramat, recommends that children aged six months to eight years receive vaccinations twice a year to prevent against future infections.

“If more people get vaccinated, this will create ‘herd immunity’ which is a community with immunity and protection against a certain virus,” she said, explaining that this would also prevent against the spread of the virus to other people and was an ‘indirect service’ towards wider communities.

She added that the influenza vaccine has the potential to reduce the risk of infection in patients, by 70%.

– Bernama