Religion being used to drive anti-vaxxer movement, says health expert


  • Nation
  • Friday, 1 Feb 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Religious arguments used by non-medical professional groups as well as vendors of alternative products on the harm of vaccines is the primary reason why parents are rejecting vaccines and affecting the health of their children, says a public health expert.

Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman of the Medical Microbiology and Parasitology Department in Universiti Putra Malaysia said parents who were taken in by both groups had only complicated the task of the government in handling the rising number of vaccine resistance cases every year.

“Many parents were duped by the anti-vaccine arguments of these educated groups who do not have a medical background.

“In fact, they acquire background information from abroad or locally, causing critical facts relating to the issue of medicine being wrongly interpreted (from research data and inference), which make people think that vaccines may bring harm.

“This includes arguments used by groups popularising alternative vaccines in the market, and it cannot be denied that they are more interested in making profits.

“We should learn from the case of a neighbouring country which found a syndicate selling fake vaccines,” she told Bernama here on Friday.

She was commenting on the statement by Heath Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on the existence of groups and individuals who used various platforms including social media to disseminate fake news on the dangers of vaccines to the people, as reported in a local English daily recently.

Dr Malina added that anti-vaccine groups also tend to use religious arguments that the use of such substances was not halal when the issue had long been addressed.

Cell-engineering techniques are used to produce vaccines without involving animals forbidden in Islam, she said.

“They also claim that a large portion of the substances used in vaccines are toxic and are from animals forbidden by Islam without any strong research evidence.

“Vaccines are produced through stringent processes on their dosage and side effects.

“Clinical tests are also conducted involving thousands of respondents from various geographical areas, and they have been proven to produce antibodies necessary to fight against dangerous diseases,” she said.

She added that the approach to medicine for Muslims should be in accordance with established religious rules, which included the importance of life, where the use of vaccine is proven to be able to fight dangerous diseases such as measles and tetanus. – Bernama