WORDS LIM TECK CHOON
While Malaysians these days are fully aware of the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, the Immunise2Protect campaign urges parents not to overlook other important childhood vaccinations for their children, particularly the chickenpox vaccine.
Immunise2Protect is organized by Immunise4Life, an expert-driven community education initiative to promote immunisation against vaccine-preventable diseases and to address issues surrounding vaccination hesitancy and refusal. This initiative is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Health Malaysia, the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) and the Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases & Chemotherapy (MSIDC).
WHY VACCINATE OUR CHILDREN AGAINST CHICKENPOX?
Contrary to the still popular perception that chickenpox is a harmless bother, it can lead to dangerous complications that require hospitalisation or may even result in death.
Even the act of scratching the itchy lesions can lead to secondary bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissue.
Children with eczema or dermatitis may develop severe skin symptoms when they contract chickenpox.
Additionally, chickenpox may also cause infection of the lungs (varicella pneumonia), inflammation of the brain (encephalitis, cerebellar ataxia) and infection of the liver (hepatitis).
Another cause of concern is that once a child has caught chickenpox, the Varicella-zoster virus that causes the infection will continue to stay in an inactivated state in their spinal cord.
Later in life, as the child’s immune system weakens with age or stress, this virus can be reactivated to cause a very painful infection called shingles.
BENEFITS OF THE VACCINATION
The chickenpox vaccination helps prevent chickenpox.
Some people that are vaccinated against chickenpox may still get the disease. When that happens, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer or no blisters (they may have just red spots) and mild or no fever.
The chickenpox vaccination also helps protect from the serious complications that require hospitalisation.