My gut instinct is that we all must get it in order to prolong our
I certainly will invest money into the well being of my family. those
of us of can afford it should also be vaccinated so that it will slow
down the spread of this dangerous flu.
Sunday December 27, 2009
A(H1N1) vaccine by March/April 2010
By LEE TSE LING
Here's that update on flu vaccines in Malaysia you've been waiting
HOW long more do we have to wait for a publicly-available A(H1N1)
influenza vaccine? Anytime from March to April, says Sanofi-Aventis
medical manager (Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei) Dr Shree Jacob.
Unlike the pandemic A(H1N1) vaccine due to arrive in January, the new
seasonal flu vaccine due to arrive in March/April will be available to
the general public, as long as they can pay for it. – AP/ Amy Sancetta
If this is news to you, it's probably, and understandably, because you
were caught up in Christmas festivities and didn't manage to catch our
news report about it on Friday.
Seasonal, not pandemic
The formulation due to arrive in March/April is the routinely produced
southern hemisphere trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine, which
arrives every year around the same time.
This year, it will contain a component that is protectective against
the A(H1N1) strain currently circulating. The new formulation is
different from the expedited pandemic A(H1N1) monovalent vaccine that
is due to arrive in January.
"Monovalent" here means the pandemic flu vaccine contains just one
viral strain ie the A(H1N1) strain everybody has been so worried
about. "Trivalent" means the seasonal flu vaccine contains three viral
One of the three strains is the A/California/7/2009-like strain, which
the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended for inclusion in the
seasonal vaccine back in Sept.
This strain closely resembles the A(H1N1) strain currently circulating
and will protect recipients against it, confirms technical officer
with the WHO Representative Office for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia,
and Singapore, Dr Harpal Singh.
Available, at a price
Unlike the pandemic A(H1N1) vaccine due to arrive in Jan, which will
only be available from public hospitals and clinics to frontliners and
high-risk groups, the new seasonal vaccine will be available as usual
to the general public (as long as they can pay for it) through private
hospitals and clinics that stock it.
Normally, the seasonal flu vaccine costs below RM100. (Between RM40
and RM60, consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin told us a
Their arrival is good news, says recently appointed Health Ministry
disease control director Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman.
"We very much welcome these new seasonal vaccines, which should also
protect against A(H1N1). The public will now have access to the
vaccine," he told Fit4Life.
In other news
Malaysia will not be one of the 95 nations receiving pandemic A(H1N1)
WHO vaccine from its stockpile of donations sourced from various
governments, foundations, and manufacturers.
Not surprising, as Malaysia did not request vaccine aid. (Nations that
did were then selected based on their vulnerability to the pandemic
and their readiness and ability to use the vaccine for priority
If we had requested aid, we would not have qualified, says Dr Harpal.
After all, "Malaysia has already procured their own vaccines, compared
to countries like Somalia and Sierra Leone, which can't even afford to
initiate discussions," he explains.
Who should/shouldn't get it?
High-risk groups for complications should, advises Dr Lokman.
Generally, these groups include the elderly, the pregnant, those with
chronic conditions or suppressed immune systems, and those in nursing
homes or long-term care facilities.
However, the ministry's policy on vaccination for high-risk groups,
like any other vaccination, still very much depends on the indication
of use from the vaccine manufacturer, which they are awaiting.
Generally, people who should not get the vaccine include those
allergic to eggs or previous flu vaccines. For other
contraindications, consult your doctor.
What about other instances that aren't so clear-cut? Healthy
travellers, for example. Or those who aren't at risk, but can afford
to purchase it.
On one hand, widespread vaccination prevents the target virus from
hanging around in a community for long.
That doesn't just reduce infections. It prevents the virus from
meeting, mingling, and mutating with other flu viruses in human
On the other hand, we can't deny vaccines can cause adverse effects,
however rare or small.
So what should you do? Decide. With your doctor, weigh the risk
factors you and your loved ones face. Consider which is higher - the
risk associated with getting vaccinated (eg adverse effects) or the
risk associated with not getting vaccinated (eg flu complications)?
If you're young, fit, and in robust health, the balance obviously tips
in favour of not needing vaccination. But if you have, say, chronic
heart disease, then the balance tips the other way.
Ultimately, what we should all keep in mind is that vaccination is not
the end-all when it comes to flu mitigation. Public health measures
like practising good hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, and social
distancing when ill, Dr Lokman stresses, remain a cornerstone of
prevention for all.