The Department of Public Health will inject Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine to the country's 14 million children to protect them from the debilitating and sometimes deadly disease, said a health official on Tuesday.
Dr Aung Kyaw Moe, assistant director of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Nay Pyi Ttaw told The Myanmar Times that they would conduct the vaccination this November and December.
"We will inject children between 5-years- old and 15-years-old in schools starting in November and for those between 9-months-old and 15-years-old outside the schools it will start in December. This will be done nationwide," he said.
JE is a serious infection that occurs mainly in rural parts of Asia. It is spread through the bites of an infected mosquito. It does not spread from person to person. Most people infected with JE virus don't display any symptoms.
Others might have symptoms such as mild fever and headache, or as serious as encephalitis (brain infection). A person with encephalitis can experience fever, neck stiffness, seizures, and coma.
About one person in 4 afflicted with encephalitis dies. Up to half of those who don't die suffer permanent disability. It is believed that infection in a pregnant woman could harm her unborn baby.
According to EPI data, Myanmar people have suffered from JE and in 2016, a total of 393 people were afflicted with the disease. This year over 200 JE patients have been reported.
Prof Saw Win, child specialist and vice chair of the National Committee for Immunization Practices said "It still needs to inject children vaccine in Myanmar, a country where infections occur so far."
People can also avail of injection of JE preventive medicine in private hospitals. The cost of preventive medicine is about K40,000.