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As WHO states, immunization saves millions of lives every year and it is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Through immunization, 37 countries and territories within the Western Pacific Region2 are free of wild polio. Maternal and neonatal tetanus have been eliminated in all but one country. Measles has been eliminated in nine countries and rubella in five, while 19 countries have been verified as having new generations free from hepatitis B. Overall, mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases has gone down 80 per cent since 2000.
As Malaysians, we all remember receiving a vaccination injection at one time or another to immunise ourselves against a particular disease. As a responsible Malaysian, we should ensure we are up-to-date with vaccinations for all possible vaccine-preventable diseases, and that we extend this critical reminder to our loved ones, friends and community members. When there is a gap in immunization coverage, this puts everyone at risk with ominous results. For example, Malaysia saw a surge in the number of measle cases from 68 in 2010, to a staggering 1,378 cases in 2011 through an immunization coverage gap in children3.
While WHO records global vaccination coverage – the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines - at around 85 per cent, yet there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world today. Many are in territories which do not have access to vaccinations, or due to parents who do not consent to having their children vaccinated.