IPOH: The Perak Health Department will take legal action against parents if their unvaccinated children contract preventable illnesses.
Its director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said this option will be exercised in the wake of several child deaths from diphtheria, as well as the increase in cases of pertussis, measles and several other communicable diseases.
Dr Juita said if a child is admitted to a hospital after contracting any of the communicable illnesses – which would be preventable if they were vaccinated according to the Government’s immunisation schedule – the parents would be held responsible.
“Perak will probably be the first state to take such a stand, and we hope other state health authorities will consider taking similar action.
“This is one way to protect children under the Child Act.
“After going through all the necessary procedures under the Act, the case will then be referred to the Social and Welfare Department for further action,” she said at a press conference after a public forum on immunisation held at Mydin Meru Raya here yesterday.
Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital’s department head and senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh said the Perak Health Department would recommend that parents be charged with neglect under the Child Act.
Dr Juita added that there were cases in Perak where government health clinic nurses were prevented from entering houses where there were newborn babies.
The mothers also refused to come to the government clinics to get their children vaccinated.
She said these mothers had doubts about the content of the vaccines, and in such cases the department worked together with the Islamic Religious authorities to provide counselling.
She said all the 12 vaccinations under the Government’s immunisation programme were derived from halal sources.
She said that in Perak, there were 246 cases of parents refusing to vaccinate their children from January to June this year, double compared to the same period last year.