KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) will target rural areas and high-risk groups with the pneumococcal vaccine first before listing it as a compulsory vaccine under the National Immunisation Plan (NIP).
The Star reported Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying that the RM60 million allocated for the pneumococcal vaccine in Budget 2020 was half of what the ministry asked for.
“As much as we want to achieve this, we have to implement it judiciously as there are implications. What is more of a priority is to make vaccination available to communities in remote areas,” Dzulkefly was quoted saying when asked if the government would make the pneumococcal vaccine compulsory for all children.
“After we are able to address that issue, then we will look into making it compulsory for all.”
Activists have previously called for the pneumococcal vaccine to be made compulsory under the NIP, so that the poor could afford it, while the rich would not simply dismiss it if it was optional.
Health activist Chan Li Jin said last July that she was told by the Health Ministry that the cost of the pneumococcal vaccine — RM180 million for 500,000 children annually — equalled all the vaccines combined.
“Looking into the volume, we can negotiate with respective companies to bring down volume, prioritise which group of patients for example the high-risk group before venturing into the National Immunisation Plan,” MOH director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted saying yesterday.
The pneumococcal vaccine programme is expected to start in the first quarter of next year depending on the negotiation process.