Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vaccinations save Lives! So why are patients still so resistant?

I took my daughter to the playground last week and unfortunately Megan fell and hit her nose which started bleeding. Along came this very nice lady in her seventies who offered to help. She ran to the nearest house and got some ice and tissue paper for me and managed to comfort my little girl who was a little shocked from ordeal.

As she was comforting her, she recalled that her own daughter was as tiny as Megan was when she was in Primary 1. Of course, that daughter is now in her forties and living overseas. She came across as a really nice grandmotherly type person, so I asked how many grandkids she had. Regretfully she told me, she didn't have any. Then she went on to say that she had a son who died from chickenpox 10 years ago at the age of 36. He had caught the virus from his wife, but unfortunately for him, the chickenpox virus affected his lungs and he died from pneumonitis.

I felt saddened that such a thing could happened to such a nice lady. She told me her husband is still angry till this day and would still reminesce about the times he had with his son.

Nowadays, there is a chickenpox vaccine available, but a lot of parents are still hesitant to give their children the vaccination. The most common reason given is that they feel that chickenpox is every child's rite of passage. They themselves got chickenpox as a child, so they feel their kids should also go throught the same ordeal.

Just recently, I was also saddened to hear about the death of a 30 year old lady from Cervical Cancer. Her story can be found here. I do not know the details of her condition and it is not common for Cervical Cancer to affect such a young person so her situation may be an exception rather than the norm. However, for the general population, MOH has given the guidelines that sexually active ladies should have their Pap Smears done every 3 years so that Cervical Cancer can be detected early. And now there is also a vaccination that can prevent the girls from getting infected with the virus that can lead to Cervical Cancer. So again, this is another tragedy that could have been prevented with a vaccination.

But perhaps it is the elderly which are most often neglected when it comes to vaccinations. We all know that Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in the aged. This is why MOH recommends the elderly to be vaccinated with the Pneumoccal vaccine every 5 years and the influenza vaccine yearly. But the problem is that the elderly are often ignorant of this. And even if they do know about it, a lot of them do not wish to burden their kids for the extra cost of the vaccines. It really is a case of "Penny wise, Pound Foolish".

I guess some might say that life is unpredictable and that if it is your time to go, there is nothing you can do to stop it. That might be true, but for our dear granny at the playground, a simple chickenpox vaccination might just have nudged fate a little more to her side.

So the bottomline is this: Vaccinations saves lives, so make sure you and your family are up to date on all the available vaccines.


vkhoo said...

Hi Dr Tay, I had a baby girl in early november last year. After much reading, I realised there are several injection that are available for her, some of which are not compulsory. There's even some reading on the internet that suggest a certain jab will cause autism? Being a kiasu mum, I would want the best for my baby. On the other hand, I was wondering if the baby can really "take it"? Hope to hear your advise on it.

Dr Leslie said...

Hi Valencia,

The experts in the medical committee have deliberated on the issue of Autism and MMR and concluded that the link is coincidental and the MMR vaccination does not cause Autism. However, there are some moms still opting for the MMR to be given separately. ie as three separate jabs. That can be arranged in our clinic.

In Australia, all babies are given the 5 in One, Prevenar and Rotarix vaccines. They are provided free by the government. There is no question that the baby can take it.

In fact, everyday our bodies are subjected to numerous virus and bacteria in our environment. A vaccination is exposure to a specific antigen and it is usually either in its weakened form or a deactivated form. The body simply learns to recognize the virus and prepare its defence systems against a possible infection in the future.

Anonymous said...

Pneumoccal vaccine?
I didnt know there is this vaccine.
THanks I will get my parents vaccinated!


Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Tay,

I read some information that the Cervical Cancer is usually for females between the ages of 15-25. I'm passed this range and am a mother. Do i still neeed this vaccine?


Dr Leslie said...

Hi Kum,

This is a very good question that a lot of people have asked. It is covered in the Cervical Cancer FAQ

Cervical Cancer Vaccination FAQ

Julia said...

Hi Dr Tay,

You mean single jabs of MMR can be arranged in your clinic?

I'm just looking for Measles vac, in this case, what is the schedule like for a 5yo?


Dr Leslie said...

Usually the kids in Singapore get their MMR in school. If you want only Measles, that can be arranged but we will need to order the drug from Japan and that will cost more.

MMR is usually given at between 1 to 2 years of age and a booster at primary one.

Julia said...

In this case, how much would the single Measles shot be? I like to get my 5yo vac for this by next yr. In that case, is there still a need for booster in P1?

Dr Leslie said...

If your child has not had the measles shot before then you will still need the booster.

The vaccination is around $100 but I will need to check with the supplier about the latest pricing as the Yen is very strong at the moment.