What would you be doing if you didn’t end up being a paediatrician? Dr Thiyagar Nadarajaw, Prof Wan Ariffin Abdullah and Datuk Dr Soo Thian Lian have a pretty good idea. They took to the stage and played out their dream roles to perfection – as a busy minister of health, an intrepid reporter, and an MOH director, respectively – during a lively vaccination advocacy workshop on May 12 in Penang.
But every star needs a supporting cast. Enter Dr Woon Teck Kim and Dr Chan Khang Yeon who sought an audience with the minister to lobby for the inclusion of meningococcal vaccination in the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). Unfazed by Dr Thiyagar’s shows of mock impatience, they provided a comeback of solid facts, wit and lashes of flattery to soften any ego.
Prof Wan showed that beneath his mild-mannered exterior lay a fearsome interrogator. He ‘ambushed’ Dr Lim Kok Ewe and Dr Cheah Yee Ping, two well-meaning paediatricians who only wanted to have influenza vaccination added to the NIP. Like a pro, Prof Wan feigned ignorance and naivety to corner them. But Dr Lim and Dr Cheah stoically stood their ground; they were not going to let the lack of local data negate the importance of the vaccine.
Datuk Soo assumed the role of the consummate new-age bureaucrat – suave, articulate and supportive, but uncompromising in the standard of proof required to consider switching from the pentavalent to the hexavalent vaccine. Dr Chan Boon Huat and Dr Lim Ai Tyng clearly understood their stakeholder as they appealed to the learned MOH director’s medical, social and economic sensibilities, and prevailed!
The 1.5-hour workshop proved an eye-opening experience for the 50-plus participants and helped them better appreciate the many challenges and considerations involved in getting vaccines into the NIP.
The event was part of the ‘Vaccination Is Protection’ Paeds Meeting, jointly organised by MPA and Sanofi Pasteur.