Health Ministry officials are organising vaccination drives throughout the country this month to encourage parents to get their children inoculated against Japanese Encephalitis.
According to Ork Vichit, an official with the National Immunisation Program, the vaccine is available for children from 9 months old to 15 years of age, and will become part of the country’s routine immunisation program after the campaign. The new push was financed with $2 million in donor funds and half a million from the government.
“The vaccine will be effective in protecting children from this disease in the future,” Vichit said. “This disease can disable children . . . It is a serious disease.”
The mosquito-transmitted virus causes inflammation of the brain, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, and about one in every four cases is fatal.
According to WHO communications officer Vicky Houssiere, Japanese Encephalitis is endemic to Cambodia, and it is estimated that 11.1 of every 100,000 children under the age of 15 develop the disease every year.
A study also found a 13 per cent mortality rate and a 94 per cent disability rate among survivors in Cambodia.
Dr Shafiqul Hossain, technical officer for the Expanded Programme on Immunization with WHO Cambodia, said yesterday that “maintaining high vaccination coverage can drastically reduce Japanese Encephalitis”.
Phnom Penh resident Ser Reiroth said she rushed to get her children vaccinated when she heard about the campaign.
“I don’t want my children to have the disease,” she said. “We want to protect them.”