PUTRAJAYA: Beginning tomorrow (June 1) till May 31, 2024, children aged between four and five, born between 2018 and 2019, will be able to get free pneumococcal vaccinations at all Ministry of Health (MoH) primary health facilities.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said it was an expansion programme for pneumococcal immunisation where previously children born between 2018 and 2019 were not included in the target group for pneumococcal vaccination under the National Immunisation Programme.

In a press conference after officiating at the National-Level Immunisation Day 2023 celebration, Dr Zaliha said children, aged four and five, will be given a single dose of the vaccine compared to babies who are given three doses -- at four months, six months and 15 months.

"Parents or guardians who want to get the pneumococcal vaccination for their children can do walk-ins at health and village clinics nationwide or by making appointments via the MySejahtera application," she said.

The pneumococcal vaccine protects against the Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus bacterial infection.

Among the diseases caused by the bacteria are pneumonia; sinus infection; middle ear infection; and meningitis as well as septicaemia.

Complications of pneumococcal disease include hearing impairment and brain damage which could lead to death.

MoH began administering pneumococcal vaccination in the National Immunisation Programme on Dec 1, 2020 for children born from Jan 1, 2020.

Dr Zaliha said the MoH has targetted a total of 700,000 or 70 per cent of one million children born between 2018 and 2019 to be given the pneumococcal vaccine within that year.

Meanwhile, under the National Immunisation Programme for infants and children, there are 11 types of vaccine products given to prevent 13 vaccine-preventable diseases, namely tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, she said.

For female students, aged 13 years old, the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be given while in Sarawak, the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine will also be given, she added.

"Now the success of immunisation coverage for infants and children is high at the national level and has reached the target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which is more than 95 per cent for most of the main vaccines in the immunisation programme. This achievement has also been certified by the WHO," she said.