‘Failure to vaccinate poses danger to child and community’


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.