Get protected against pneumonia
Four NTU undergraduates launch a pilot campaign to raise awareness on the importance of pneumococcal vaccinations.
Pneumonia ranks low on Singapore elderly’s concerns as an illness despite being one of the leading causes of death, a recently conducted survey by students of Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) reveals.
The research survey, conducted with 200 elderly respondents, revealed that while 69.2 percent of the elderly believe their age group to be the most susceptible to contracting pneumonia, 56.6 percent do not feel that they themselves will contract it.
In 2016, pneumonia accounted for 19.3 percent of total deaths or 3,863 individuals in Singapore. It was the third major cause of death and ranks 4th among the top 10 conditions for hospitalisations. In Singapore, bacteria causes over half of the pneumonia cases, with the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae being the most common cause in the community. Pneumococcal pneumonia accounts for approximately 50 percent of pneumonia cases in hospitals despite being an easily preventable infectious disease through vaccinations.
Launched in October 2017, the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) calls for increase awareness and uptake of important but non-mandatory vaccines in adults. It recommends for the at-risk group of all elderly aged 65 and above to take the pneumococcal vaccines, which can be paid for using the Medisave400 scheme. According to the NTU students, a vaccine can cost around S$150 at a polyclinic.
However, the survey conducted also found low pneumococcal vaccines take-up rate of 7.14 percent amongst elderly aged 65 and above. This corresponds with a 2013 national study that found dismal adult immunisation rates of only five to eight percent for the pneumococcal vaccine in adults aged 50 and above.
In light of this, a group of four 22-year-old undergraduates from Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in NTU – Tong Pui Jeng, Gayle Lim, Lim Ching Ying, Nerissa Lee – is initiating a pilot campaign in Queenstown and Bukit Merah to raise awareness on the importance of pneumococcal vaccines in elderly aged 65 and above as part of their final-year project. Said Pui Jeng: “We think it is important. Other students are doing many campaigns on youths but with Singapore having an ageing population, we felt we wanted to focus instead on the elderly.”
Officially launching on January 2, 2018, A Pneu Choice will be holding a series of informational and educational sessions for elderly at senior activity centres, in partnership with doctors from clinics including the Tzu Chi Free Clinic. According to the students, they are currently working out the dates with various voluntary welfare organisations. Brochures containing information on pneumonia will also be made available to the public. The campaign will end before Chinese New Year.
For more information and updates, go to A Pneu Choice’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/apneuchoice/.