After polio outbreak, additional immunisation for all children under 5 in Sabah

The health ministry says the additional immunisation for children under five in Sabah will be carried out in stages as soon as possible. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The health ministry today announced that it will be rolling out additional immunisation for all children under the age of five in Sabah.

This follows a case of polio – the first in 27 years – involving a three-month-old Malaysian boy in the state who was found to have contracted the same polio virus which has been spreading in the southern Philippines.

The boy is in stable condition, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today, adding that while no new cases have been reported since then, the ministry will step up efforts to eradicate the highly contagious disease in the state.

“Additional immunisation activities will be carried out on all children below the age of five in Sabah,” he said in a statement.

“This will be done in stages, and plans are underway to provide this additional immunisation as soon as possible.”

According to the ministry, as many as 59 children from the ages of two months to 15 years living in the area who have not been immunised have been given the polio vaccine. None of them is local.

Outlining measures that the ministry is taking to monitor acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases – a common sign of polio – Noor Hisham said 1,553 people had been tested and none found to be infected.

Stool samples from 20 people who had been in close contact with the baby, and six environmental samples taken from the affected area had also been sent to laboratories for analysis.

In addition, no wild or vaccine-derived polio virus had been detected during the sampling of wastewater at six sewage treatment plants.

Noor Hisham said the ministry was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to get the latest information about the global polio situation and is cooperating with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to get a subsidised source of vaccines for the migrants in Sabah.

In addition, it would increase its collaboration with the Philippine government to provide immunisation to its citizens living in Sabah.

Stressing that immunisation was the best way to prevent polio, he again urged parents to ensure their children were vaccinated.