The human body is indeed an amazing living machine which has the capability to heal itself and fend off diseases naturally. However, there are certain types of pathogens that the body cannot protect itself against and this is where vaccines come to our rescue. Vaccination has been playing a crucial role in the healthy development of infants and young children all over the world. Some diseases that have been successfully been brought under control worldwide by use of vaccines include hepatitis, pertussis, tetanus, meningitis, as well as measles and chickenpox.\r\n\r\nA vaccine is made up of a small amount of killed or weakened virus or bacteria. It prevents diseases, disability, and even death by stimulating a child\u2019s immune system when it is introduced into the body.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\u00a0\r\nMandatory vaccines\r\nSince more than half a century ago, the Malaysian Ministry of Health has introduced an immunisation schedule which includes free\u00a0 mandatory vaccines to prevent certain major childhood diseases. While all compulsory vaccines are provided free by the government, other optional vaccinations, which are now deemed just as important as well, are available in private medical establishments nationwide.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDisease\r\nVaccines\r\nAge\r\n\r\n\r\nTuberculosis (TB)Tuberculosis is highly contagious and fatal. It could result in lung damage and the deadly TB meningitis. Tuberculosis may also give rise to bone disease.\r\nThe BCG vaccine\r\nGiven at birthAdministered again at the age of seven years if no BCG scar is detected from the birth time vaccine\r\n\r\n\r\nHepatitis B Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can lead to jaundice. If left untreated, it may even lead to liver cancer.\r\nA series of\u00a0 three injections of Hepatitis B vaccine\r\nFirst dose administered at birth, followed by one at one month old and another at five months of age\r\n\r\n\r\nDiphtheriaA dangerous disease that causes the obstruction of the airway and can lead to heart and brain damage.\r\nDTP vaccine\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPertussis (Whooping cough)Pertussis is characterized as severe, prolonged coughing fits that can cause infection to the lung and brain.\r\nAt 2, 3 & 5 months; 1st booster shot at 18 months; 2nd booster shot at 6-7 years\r\n\r\n\r\nTetanus (Lockjaw)Muscle spasms that become so severe and may cause death.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDisease\r\nVaccines\r\nAge\r\n\r\n\r\nPoliomyelitis (Polio)Weakening of the muscles that can lead to paralysis of the legs.\r\nPolio vaccine which is given orally or included in the DTP vaccine\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMeaslesHighly contagious, characterised by tiny red rashes, high fever, cough and in some cases, a\r\nrunny nose.\r\nMMR vaccine\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMumpsHighly infectious, causes swelling of the glands behind the jaws. Severe cases may cause sterility.\r\nAdministered between 12 to 15 months of age and again at age seven\r\n\r\n\r\nRubella \r\n(German Measles)Rubella may be passed by pregnant women to their babies, causing birth defects.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHaemophilus influenzae B (Hib)Inflammation of membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), pneumonia, bronchitis, bacteraemia, ear infection, and epiglotitis.\r\nHib vaccine\r\nGiven at two, three and five months of age; given with DTP\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nJust as crucial: Optional vaccines\r\nThe Ministry of Health takes care of the afore-mentioned deadly diseases by providing free vaccinations. However, parents are highly encouraged to pay due attention to the optional vaccines which will be offered by their children\u2019s doctors and seriously consider these vaccines.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\nTable of Optional Vaccines\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nVaccine\r\nProtects against...\r\nCaused by\r\nNumber of shots\r\nWhen to administer\r\n\r\n\r\nVaricella\r\nChickenpox\r\nVaricella virus\r\nTwo doses, at least a month apart\r\nAfter the age of one year\r\n\r\n\r\nPneumococcal vaccine\r\nInvasive pneumococcal disease\r\nStreptococcus pneumoniae\r\nBetween ages one to four, to be determined by your doctor\r\nTwo months to nine years of age\r\n\r\n\r\nMeningcoccal A, C, Y, W-135\r\nMeningitis\r\nNeisseria meningitidis\r\nOnce every three to five years\r\nAbove the age of two years. Highly encouraged for Hajj & Umrah pilgrimage\r\n\r\n\r\nCholera\r\nCholera\r\nVibrio cholerae\r\nTwo to three oral doses\r\nFrom two years old\r\n\r\n\r\nTyphoid\r\nTyphoid fever\r\nSalmonella typhy\r\nOnce every three years\r\nAbove two years of age\r\n\r\n\r\nHepatitis A\r\nHepatitis A\r\nHepatitis A virus\r\nTwo, given 6 months apart\r\nAbove two years of age\r\n\r\n\r\nInfluenza\r\nInfluenza\r\nInfluenza virus\r\nEvery year apart\r\nAbove six months of age\r\n\r\n\r\nRotavirus\r\nGastroenteritis due to rotavirus\r\nRotavirus\r\nTwo to three doses as determined by your doctor\r\nFrom six weeks old\r\n\r\n\r\nJapanese encephalitis\r\nJapanese encephalitis\r\nFlavivirus carried by culex mosquito\r\nTwo to three doses as determined by your doctor\r\nAbove 18 months, three doses\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIt would be a grave mistake to brazenly disregard the optional vaccines just because they are not included in the Government\u2019s scheme of free vaccines. Calamity strikes without warning and many parents have found out the hard way that they should have paid more attention to the optional vaccines that were advocated by doctors. Most of the above are equally important as the free vaccines provided by the Ministry Of Health and may protect your children and family against avoidable suffering and the risk of serious health complications.\r\n\r\nRemember, prevention is better than cure and it would be most unfortunate if the preventable was not prevented by something as simple as a vaccination. Talk to your doctor today!\r\n\r\nPneumococcal disease\r\n\r\nMay result in meningitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. In infants and children below two years of age, it can cause brain damage or even death.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nRotavirus Immunisation \u2013 why it is important\r\nRotavirus is a virus that infects the gastrointestinal tract of young children before 5 years of age. This infection causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Babies and very young children with rotavirus infections can become dehydrated very quickly because the body loses water more quickly than it can be replaced. Most young children will end up being hospitalised for intravenous fluids to treat dehydration. In very young infants, rotavirus infection can lead to\u00a0 life-threatening dehydration.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMany people think that diarrhea is common in children and it isn\u2019t something to worry about. Rotavirus infection, if uncontrolled, causes large epidemics of diarrhea and vomiting in babies and young children and with it, misery for the effected families.\r\n\r\nRotavirus spreads very easily and affects around 140,000 children every year in the US alone. In February 2012, there was a rotavirus outbreak in Northern Perak which led to over 3000 people being affected and even two deaths. Rotavirus is usually contracted though contamination from infected faces. Improper food handling or inadequate hygiene in childcare facilities can also lead to widespread outbreaks.\r\n\r\nRotavirus immunisation is the only effective method of preventing this devastating infection and in addition, it also reduces the number of hospitalisations and deaths due to rotavirus infection. In America, studies have shown that rotavirus-related hospital admissions for young children have been cut by more than two-thirds since the rotavirus vaccination was introduced. The World Health Organisation recommended in 2009 that all children globally be vaccinated against rotavirus.\r\n\r\nThe rotavirus vaccine is an oral vaccine which is given to infants in syrup form. There are two rotavirus vaccines available in the market. Both need to be given before 8 months of age. This is to protect the most vulnerable population, the young and newborn infants. The first dose is usually given at 6 weeks of age, along with other routine immunisations and subsequent doses are given every 1 - 2 months.\r\n\r\nThe rotavirus vaccine has not been shown to cause any side effects or long-term adverse effects. An earlier generation of vaccine for rotavirus was withdrawn because of concerns that it was associated with a bowel condition known as intussusceptions but the current vaccines have been widely used for many years and do not show any association with any adverse events.\r\n\r\nWhile the rotavirus vaccine has not been made compulsory in Malaysia, it is widely available in private hospitals and clinics. The rotavirus vaccine presents the best hope for preventing severe rotavirus disease and the deadly dehydrating diarrhea that it causes. Discuss\u00a0rotavirus Immunisation with your\u00a0child\u2019s doctor today.