Saturday, August 27, 2016
Brunei - Vaccination: Separating fact from fiction
DISEASES that are preventable by vaccines continue to pose a real threat to the health of individuals, families and communities in Brunei Darussalam.
Measles can lead to lung infections, seizures, brain damage and death. Mumps can lead to deafness and meningitis (an infection to the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord). Polio can lead to fever, paralysis and meningitis.
Vaccines are the most effective and proven means to protect us and our children from all the above life-threatening illnesses.
Here are some myths and facts about vaccination:
Myth 1: Better hygiene and sanitation will make diseases disappear – vaccines are not necessary. FALSE.
Fact 1: Harmful diseases preventable by vaccines will return if we do not continue to vaccinate. While better hygiene, hand washing and clean water help protect against infectious diseases, many infections can spread regardless of how clean we are.
If people are not vaccinated, diseases that have become uncommon, such as polio and measles, will quickly reappear and spread.
Myth 2: Vaccines have several damaging and long-term side-effects that are unknown. Vaccination can even be fatal. FALSE.
Fact 2: Vaccines are very safe. Most vaccine reactions are usually minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever.
Serious health events are extremely rare and are carefully monitored and investigated.
You are far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine.
Myth 3: Vaccine-preventable diseases are almost eradicated in my country, so there is no reason to be vaccinated. FALSE.
Fact 3: Brunei Darussalam through the success of our National Immunisation Programme has eliminated a number of vaccine preventable diseases like polio, congenital rubella syndrome (a maternal infection in early pregnancy), haemophilus influenza Type B meningitis, whooping cough and measles, mainly due to high population coverage of immunisation. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable diseases and death still exist. We must not forget that some countries are still battling with vaccine preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria.
Viruses do not need a passport to travel and get imported to a country. Successful vaccination programmes, like successful societies, depend on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the good of all. We should not rely on people around us to stop the spread of disease; we too must do what we can and prevent these illnesses from making a comeback.
Myth 4: Giving a child more than one vaccine at a time can increase the risk of harmful side-effects, which can overload the child’s immune system. FALSE.
Fact 4: Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at a time has no adverse effects on a child’s immune system. Combinations of vaccines given at the same time has been examined and declared safe for use.
Myth 5: Vaccines contain mercury which is dangerous. FALSE.
Fact 5: There is no evidence that thiomersal (a mercury-based preservative) in vaccines has caused any health problems, except perhaps minor reactions such as redness at the injection site.
Myth 6: Vaccines cause autism. FALSE.
Fact 6: There is no scientific evidence to support the notion of a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism.
Nowadays, there is greater public awareness of autism, and more parents are seeking help. What is clear, however, is that there is no such link between vaccines and autism.
Myth 7: Vaccines can cause cancer. FALSE.
Fact 7: Two vaccines – hepatitis B vaccine and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine – actually act to directly prevent cancer.
The hepatitis B vaccine prevents liver cancer (associated with hepatitis B infection) and the HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancers (associated with HPV infection).
Myth 8: Vaccination of young children can cause seizures: FALSE.
Fact 8: Febrile convulsions (sometimes referred to as seizures) are a relatively common response to fever of any cause in young children and not necessarily because of vaccination.
Myth 9: Childhood vaccines contains porcine. FALSE.
Fact 9: All types of childhood immunisation vaccines registered and procured by the Ministry of Health of Brunei Darussalam have been declared to have no alcohol content and no animal origin including porcine.
All registered medicinal products undergo quality and safety assessment by the Ministry of Health.
In conclusion, as a nation we need to continually support and need active involvement of all in the community – individuals, parents, families, and other stakeholders including schools to be vigilant and to work together to maintain and enhance the coverage of all immunisation across all ages in order 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.
Ministry of Health