Dr Jamilah: Free Vaccination Only For Those Bitten By Rabid Animals

KUCHING: The Health Department will only provide free vaccination to those who have been bitten by rabid animals or those on a post-exposure basis as recommended by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Its state director Dr Jamilah Hashim said rabies vaccination would not be given as prophylaxis; meaning a person who has not been bitten by a rabid animal will not be given free vaccination, even as a precaution involving high risk factor(s).

Not everyone will be given the vaccination free-of-charge. It is not given as prophylaxis. It is given only for post-exposure; after being bitten or scratched by an animal and if it fulfils strict criteria. Decision on whether such case requires vaccination or otherwise is a clinical decision based on the outcome of clinical assessment, Dr Jamilah said when contacted yesterday.

She said a vial for an individual who has been bitten by an animal is priced about RM400. The individual would need four doses.

A person bitten by an animal will need four doses priced about RM1,600. Human rabies vaccination from government hospitals and clinics with dog/animal bite(s) will be given free-of-charge, she said, adding that the department had established animal-bite wound clinics in outbreak areas from Kuching to Sarikei.

Dr Jamilah added that the department was following directives from the Ministry of Health guidelines.

For pre-exposure prophylaxis, it’s given to staff involved in the various operations, such as veterinarians and staff of local councils.

The vaccines for this purpose are purchased by the state government. We (our department) purchase the vaccines using funds from the Ministry of Health.

We reserve our vaccines for patients. As for the public, what is important is to make sure they are not bitten by animals. They must take steps to prevent themselves from being bitten by animals.

She also advised pet owners to be responsible by getting the necessary licences for them.

They must keep their animals within their own house compound and not let them run loose.

She was asked to comment whether her department was providing vaccination free-of-charge to those whose professions are considered as high-risk, especially laboratory staff, wildlife officers, animal handlers, veterinarians and other individuals living in or traveling to countries or areas at risk as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Meanwhile, the latest updates from the secretariat of the State’s Disaster Management Committee reported that there were 22 new cases of animal bites which were rabies-positive, from four areas yesterday. Sixteen cases were reported in Kuching, four in Serian and one each in Betong and Sarikei.

In Kuching, three areas namely No 16, Taman Dirgahayu, Jalan Sim Kheng Hong Selatan, No 303, Lorong 11A, Taman Malihah, Jalan Matang Kuching and Mile 10, Kuching-Serian Road, were declared as new rabies areas, yesterday.

As of yesterday, a total of 2,256 individuals who have been bitten by rabid animals have been vaccinated since the rabies outbreak started in April 2017.

So far, a total of 42,719 animals have been vaccinated, consisting of 34,687 dogs, 7,987 cats and 45 other animals/pets.

Source: The Borneo Post