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Memoir Essay On Childhood Immunizations

Immunization is key to fight infectious diseases that could kill children, according to Professor U Saw Win, a child specialist.

“Every children has chance to get vaccinated through the government’s nationwide immunization programme,” he said.

The vaccine coverage is approximately 80 to 90 percent of the population in the country and still about 10 to 20pc of children do not have vaccination at all or have incomplete vaccination.

The Myanmar government is currently providing 10 types of vaccines per child free of charge since July 2016.

According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, about US$50 (K68,065) were spent to inject each child throughout the country with 10 types of vaccines.

Dr Than Tun Aung, deputy director general of Public Health (Epidemiology/Disaster) said that the “$50 cost per child to get fully immunized is a huge amount.”

Although the nationwide supplementary immunization campaigns had been successful, routine vaccination program proved wanting, he said.

“We are successful with our mass measles-rubella immunization campaign in 2015, but the second dosage for measles immunization in 2016 was only 80 percent a success,” Dr. Than Tun Aung said. “Therefore, we fail to fully immunize over 80,000 children.”

Dr Than Tun Aung noted that due to vaccine coverage is low in some region, the measle outbreak occurred some region like Naga last year and in Yangon and Rakhine State this year. 

Despite this blight in the country’s national immunization programme, the health ministry is unfazed and would soon be including three new vaccines in its annual vaccination campaign. These are the vaccines against Japanese Encephalitis, vaccine against rotavirus causing diarrhea and the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causing  cervical cancer.  

Dr Htar Htar Lin, deputy director of Department of Public Health and programme manager of the immunization campaign, said that they are trying to introduce the vaccines which are really effective in preventing infectious diseases for children.

She told The Myanmar Times that “If a child does not get vaccinated, it looks like he or she is just waiting to get infected.”

Dr Htar Htar Lin urged parents not to worry if their children exhibit symptoms of illness after vaccination as these are natural occurrences.

“The quality of our vaccines is safe,” she said

According to the health ministry, there are two major challenges in its national immunization campaign –  conducting vaccination in hard to reach areas and vaccinating children of migrant families in urban areas.

Dr Htar Htar Lin said they are trying to cover vaccination to reach remote areas with the help of trained part-time staff and volunteers.

“In remote areas, people don’t move and just stay there.  So, health staff could find them. But we have difficulties to immunise children from migrant family who are always moving from one place to another,” she said.

To vaccinate every child, hospital-based immunization clinics had been opened in 98 hospitals, general hospitals with 100 beds and above, and Specialist Hospitals in May 2017.

Health experts warned that children who were not fully vaccinated cannot be 100pc immune to infectious diseases.

MOHS is trying to add JE Vaccine to National Immunization Program starting in January 2018. So, every new born child will get 11 types of vaccine starting next year.

Every $1 invested in immunization returns and estimated $16 in health-care savings and increased economic productivity and $68 for treating measles, said Dr Htar Htar Lin

Myanmar aims to achieve goals and milestones of National Immunization Programme, such as to achieve zero polio cases by 2019. 

It also aims to meet the target of maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination status, and eliminate measles and control of rubella and Congenital Rubella Control by 2020.

Moreover, the National Immunization Program aims to introduce underused vaccines and new technology into routine immunization supported by evidence of disease burden, according the health ministry.

The governent’s  National Immunization Programme is supported by  the World Health Organization, the United Nation International Children Emergency Fund, GAVI a public-private global health partnership and PATH, a Seattle-based nonprofit global health organisation.

My mom was an anti-vaxxer before it was cool. For as long as I can remember, she’s believed in alternative medicine; she says some homeopathic remedies could cure chicken pox faster than anything from a pharmacy. She only gave me antibiotics once when I was a child, when I had an ear infection so bad it could have killed me if she didn’t.

When I was born in the late ’80s, my mother was skeptical of the accepted wisdom. She’d heard that the vaccines were full of toxic stuff that could weaken my immune system for the rest of my life. She’d heard they could cause autoimmune diseases. Plus, when she was a baby, she’d had an extremely rare and nearly lethal reaction to a vaccine. She told me she was in medical textbooks. Since her mother couldn’t remember which vaccine had nearly killed her, she figured the safest bet was just to keep me away from all of them.

Every time I entered a new school (which was five times between kindergarten and ninth grade), she had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and insist over and over that she had a religious objection to vaccinations. She didn’t, but that was one type of objection that no school board is allowed to argue with, or even inquire further about. I never understood what the big deal was, but no kid is going to argue in favor of a shot, so I kept my mouth shut and went through life unvaccinated.

When I entered college, I filled out the same paperwork and told the same lie; it was just habit at that point. I wasn’t convinced that vaccinations were a money-making conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies — but I wasn’t convinced that they weren’t. It sounded about as reasonable as our government pretending they’d found weapons of mass destruction as a cover for a war based on oil.

I could have just gotten the shot, but that sounded like more work than filling out an extra form. Plus, I figured, I’d made it through childhood — what was the likelihood of me getting a deadly, extinct disease? As far as I knew, everyone else had gotten the vaccine, so my chances of being exposed were extremely low.

My paperwork was approved with a skeptical glare from a college administrator, and I didn’t give much thought to vaccines again. That is, until I got married and started thinking about having kids of my own.