Immunisation schedule for adults a good start

For a long time, the lack of an official schedule has hampered primary-care doctors' efforts in recommending vaccination to the elderly and the vulnerable in Singapore (MOH introduces immunisation schedule for adults; Oct 22).

It is not surprising that many adults are not keen on getting vaccinated (Adults here not keen on getting vaccinated; Oct 25).

Members of the public often doubt the doctor, thinking that he is trying to push for sales.

The healthcare system in Singapore is also built based on an acute-care model.

This means that medical administrators often operate on the basis of symptomatic relief and occasional cure. Little effort and few programmes are placed on prevention.

The suggestion of vaccinating the elderly on discharge from hospital is one such example.

Real prevention should prevent the elderly from catching pathogens in the first place, preventing a hospital admission. Therefore, vaccination must be done at the primary-care level.

Examining the schedule carefully, one will realise that it is basically a list of vaccines claimable under the Medisave scheme.

It is not comprehensive enough. For instance, it has left out Zostavax (a vaccine for the prevention of shingles) and Dengvaxia (the first available vaccine against all four strains of dengue).Still, it is a good start.

Due to the limited amount claimable from Medisave, one should not expect that every vaccine can be claimed. The decision for vaccination should be based on need and not whether it is claimable from Medisave.

The cost of a vaccine is far less than the cost of an infection, its treatment and other intangible costs. In fact, we should encourage all Singaporeans to take vaccination seriously and as a personal responsibility to protect themselves, their loved ones and others in creating a stronger herd immunity.

Often, the ones who travel frequently are the ones who bring home the viruses. Caregivers of the elderly as well as the young, such as domestic helpers, are the other carriers. They should be vaccinated adequately and appropriately.

Leong Choon Kit (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'Immunisation schedule for adults a good start'. Print Edition | Subscribe