The number of parents refusing vaccination for their children in public clinics has doubled – from 918 cases to 1,851 cases respectively in 2014 and 2015, according to Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya.

“Among the reasons behind the rise in reported measles cases is refusal of immunisation due to poverty or other reasons like the lack of understanding about immunisation,” said Hilmi.

The number of cases in measles has escalated from 225 to 1,318 in the same time period of decline in vaccinations, along with other preventable diseases.

Vaccination feared to contain non-halal substance

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has reportedly been looking into drafting a new law that will mandate parents to vaccinate their children, with health minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam stating that talks were being held with the National Fatwa Council, which is in agreement that immunisation was a responsibility.

While religion was found to be one of the top reasons for parents to refuse immunisation due to fear that vaccinations contain non-halal substance, Subramaniam has said that the council had already issued a statement that parents are responsible for vaccinating their children as a protection against diseases.

Nevertheless, scholars have since suggested for Muslims to venture into the pharmaceutical field to develop vaccines that are halal.

Dr Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen, the director of centre for science and environment studies at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia, along with Ahmad Badri Abdullah, a research fellow from the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, have also agreed that such a measure was necessary for the practise of vaccination to be better accepted by Muslims in the country.

According to Sabak Bernam Umno MP Datuk Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fake, the government is working hand in hand with the federal Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to spread awareness and teach the public about the importance of immunising children, adding that both parties have published campaign materials and held forums nationwide on the topic of vaccination.

Lokman: No link between vaccination and autism

Another known factor that is driving the poor rates of immunisations not just in Malaysia but also in other parts of the globe is due to assumption that vaccinations are linked to autism in children.

This ensued following the controversial paper published in Lancet in 1998 by Dr Andrew Wakefield describing the association between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Though the fraudulent paper was retracted by Lancet, a widespread panic has already spread amongst parents, causing speculations to persist until today.

Just recently in October, MOH deputy director-general Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman released a statement refuting a news article that allegedly misquoted him in saying that two vaccinations should not be given at one time.

Lokman explained that he had tried to dissipate fears of vaccination leading to autism, following claims by parents that their children became autistic following a vaccination at 18 months of age.

“This schedule of administering the jabs at intervals has nothing to do with some parents’ concerns on autism but is more for the comfort of the child and parents,” he said.
“Furthermore, there are many countries worldwide which give double vaccinations on the same day. This is a norm and has not caused any effects on the child’s health.” MIMS

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