PETALING JAYA: Refusing to vaccinate a child is not a personal choice but may put the well-being of the greater society at risk, Health Department director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham says.
In a Facebook post, Dr Noor Hisham said living in a civilised society required certain obligations and not wantonly bringing back vaccine-preventable diseases.
“There’s simply no choice when it comes to saving children’s lives,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham was responding to a front page article in a Malay vernacular tabloid which reported that many parents in Kedah had admitted being reluctant to vaccinate their children due to concerns over side-effects and halal status of vaccines.
Newspapers are supposed to educate, he said, and not contribute to public confusion.
He pointed out even Saudi Arabia had a national immunisation programme for disease prevention and were considering making it a requirement for those going to Mecca to get vaccinated for meningococcal.
The Star yesterday reported that children not immunised against measles have led to a 340% leap in the number of infections within the first week of this month.
There were 873 cases reported in that week compared to 197 in the corresponding period last year, an increase of 676 cases.
Last year, there were 1,318 cases of measles with two deaths.
Despite a declaration by the National Fatwa Council that the vaccines are halal, an increasing number of parents, mostly in Kedah, are still not immunising their children.
To-date, a seven-year-old girl died from diphtheria bacterial infection in Malacca, while another death of a two-year-old toddler in Kedah is also believed to have been caused by the same illness.
In Butterworth, state Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin urged anti-vaccine groups not to hamper the need for vaccination to protect children against the diphtheria bacterial infection.