KUALA LUMPUR: All vaccines administered by government hospitals are guaranteed to be halal, including that for diphtheria, says Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
He said that the ministry always conducts checks on the vaccines to be administered, and those containing porcine DNA are rejected.
Dr Hilmi said there were some parents who refused to vaccinate their children, due to doubts over its halal status.
"The vaccination provided by the Government is all halal, and the National Fatwa Council has also issued a statement on this issue, so parents need to refer to the matter," he told reporters after launching the 1Malaysia Maintenance Fund Project in Balik Pulau, Penang Saturday.
He said this following the death of a two-month-old child who had diphtheria and did not receive the vaccination on the family's request.
Dr Hilmi, who is also Balik Pulau MP, said people should be wary of information through social media and to obtain advice given by experts instead.
"So far, in Malaysia, there is only one vaccine which contains porcine DNA, the Rotavirus vaccine.
"The Government does not buy the Rotavirus vaccine. It is only available in private clinics to treat severe diarrhoea," he said.
He said the Government allocated RM120 million each year to purchase vaccines for 12 types of viruses, adding these were provided free of charge to all babies until the age of three.
The Ministry also advised parents who had not vaccinated their children to do so immediately to protect them from exposure to infection.
Meanwhile, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said although no punishment would be imposed on parents or guardians who fail to immunise their children, but they needed to be aware of the detrimental impact it would have on children, especially those aged below seven.
"Last year, a total of 32 diphtheria cases were reported nationwide, involving seven deaths.
"More worrying is the fact that all those deaths were due to the stubbornness of certain people who refused to get their children immunised," he noted.
Dr Noor Hisham was met by reporters at the launch of the People Friendly National Blue Ocean Strategy Fiesta, inaugurated by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam at the Jementah Public Field in Segamat, Johor Saturday.
Also present were Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah and Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Chen Chaw Min.
Dr Noor Hisham said the diphtheria infection could be avoided if children received the "five-in-one" injection administered at two, three and five months, with a booster given when they reach 18 months. – Bernama