Pneumococcal Disease is the leading infectious cause of death in children and adults worldwide.
Treatment requires the use of antibiotics, but with the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria that causes Pneumococcal Disease, Health Hub advises that it is more effective to get vaccinated against the it.
Enter Temasek Holdings CEO/frequent Facebook user Ho Ching.
Ho shared with her followers a little public service announcement on the morning of Feb. 28 regarding the pneumococcal vaccine after she and her husband, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, went to get theirs.
Pneumococcal Disease is caused by a particular strain of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Not only is the disease particularly infectious (it spreads through coughing, sneezing and contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person), Ho explained that the bacteria can cause life-threatening diseases like meningitis (inflammation of the brain membrane) and sepsis (when the body's immune system attacks its own organs).
According to Health Hub, bacterial meningitis is the most serious and potentially fatal disease caused by the pneumococcal bacteria. Health Hub says that:
"over 20 per cent of those who contract pneumococcal meningitis die and 50 per cent experience long-term health complications such as deafness, paralysis (loss of limb function) or mental retardation."
Most prevalent among young, elderly, and sick
While anyone can get Pneumococcal Disease, it is most prevalent in the very young, the elderly, as well as those who possess a weak immune system or chronic disease.
It is treated with antibiotics but some strains have mutated to become drug-resistant - which is why vaccination is important.
In Singapore, you can find the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
In her Facebook post, Ho mentioned that the pneumococcal jab is recommended for adults above 65 as well as those above 18-year-olds who who have chronic diseases (like diabetes) or a poorer immune system.
Ho has good reason to make this PSA.
According to a Tan Tock Seng Hospital infectious diseases physician, uptake of the pneumococcal vaccination among adults in 2015 was below 15 per cent.
Can use Medisave to pay for vaccination
What's more, Ho reminded her followers that they can use their Medisave to pay for their vaccinations, as long as the vaccines are included in the National Adult Immunisation Schedule.
This was implemented by the Ministry of Health in October 2017 to encourage more adults to get themselves vaccinated.
Both the PCV13 and the PPSV23 are included in the National Adult Immunisation Schedule, which means you can use your Medisave to pay for them.
People age 65 and above are advised to get one dose of PCV13 and one dose of PPSV23. People who are 18-years-old and older and suffer from chronic diseases or poor immune systems can have either one or two doses, depending on what your doctor says.
Children in Singapore will also receive the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine under the National Immunisation Schedule. Their vaccine is spread out across three doses before they reach their twelfth month.
Ho capped off her post by sharing about the other diseases that have vaccinations available under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule.
These include tetanus and diphtheria for pregnant women, the human papillomavirus which causes cervix cancer, and measles, mumps and rubella for those who did not get vaccinated against them during their childhood.
For more details on the types of diseases covered under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule, you can head over here.
You can read Ho's post below:If you cannot read the embedded Facebook post, we reproduce it below:
Hubby and I just did our 2nd and follow-up dose of the pneumococcal vaccine jab.
A bit of achy shoulder for a day or so.
Have you done yours?
It’s to protect against a kind of life threatening pneumonia, caused by strep bacteria.
It also protects against other life threatening illnesses like meningitis and sepsis.
Meningitis is a dangerous inflammation of the brain lining, associated with fevers.
Sepsis is associated with blood poisoning, or an immune reaction to infection which starts to attack one’s own organs too.
The pneumococcal jab is recommended for adults over 65.
It is also recommended for younger folks over 18 who may have a reason to be immunised, such as diabetes or chronic conditions of lung, heart, kidney or liver, etc.
Do you know you can use your medisave to do that?
SG adults can use medisave to pay for any of the recommended vaccines for adults as listed in the table of the National Adult Immunisation Schedule, as shown in the table below.
These are all against vaccine preventable diseases. Many of these diseases may also lead to other complications.
The list includes annual flu jabs, Pneumonia jabs, shingles and chicken pox jabs, and Hepatitis B jabs.
There are also other specific vaccines available for other specific situations.
For pregnant mothers, there is a jab against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (a kind of persistent and serious cough aka whooping cough), done once per pregnancy.
For young women, there is also an HPV jab which protects against the HPV linked to cervical cancers.
For the few adults who have not had their MMR vaccines as a kid, you can also get them (2 doses) as an adult.
All can paid for using your medisave.
How about it, folks?
Protect yourself, protect your family, including older folks above 65.
This will help everyone in the community, including your own young ones, kids or grandkids, to enjoy better protection against preventable diseases and illnesses.
Check with your GP what is best for you, and work out an adult vaccine plan for yourself.
Top images via Ho Ching's Facebook page