Unvaccinated children have a right to education too, say parents and educators

PETALING JAYA: Unvaccinated children shouldn’t be denied education. But parents whose kids are vaccinated are worried.

SK Taman Megah Parent­-Teacher Assoc­iation chairman Rodney Teoh said non-immunised children should not be denied their right to free education.

“My children are vaccinated. As parents, we do what’s best for our children,” he said.

He advised parents to immunise their children to create “herd immunity” or resistance to the spread of contagious diseases within a population with a high proportion of individuals already immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

Despite following the government’s vaccination programme, Nicholas Yeap is worried for his Year Three daughter.

He wanted vaccinations to be compulsory as unvaccinated children could be carriers or hosts to various viruses.

“My daughter could still be affected by viruses that are constantly evolving as she’d be exposed to carriers in school,” Yeap said.

He urged the government to provide more free vaccinations, adding: “Many children got infected during last year’s influenza outbreak. This vaccination is not included in the list of free vaccinations provided by the government.

“Vaccinations can be pricey and it’s unfair to the B40 group who can’t afford it,” he said.

SMK Assunta Petaling Jaya Parent-Teacher Association chairman Alan Goh said there was “no harm” in allowing unvaccinated children in school.

West Malaysia Malay Teachers Union president Jasni Md Kechik said vaccination and right to education were separate matters, adding that the Education Ministry shouldn’t prevent unvaccinated children from studying.

Yesterday, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik uploaded a video clip on Face­book explaining the ministry’s stand on vaccination.

He advised parents to vaccinate their children, but added that schools could not penalise unvaccinated children.

“You cannot blame the kids, who are too young to decide for themselves. Whether or not a child is vaccinated depends on the parents and Health Ministry.

“Schools cannot deprive them of a quality education,” he said, adding that the ministry’s role was not to let children be exposed to social ills and drop out of the education system.

On March 5, a news portal reported that there were no plans to make vaccines mandatory for students.

This was in line with the ministry’s policy to ensure that all children had access to education, the report quoting Dr Maszlee read.

Clarifying the report on Facebook, Dr Maszlee said his response to a reporter’s question was misinterpreted.

“The headline ‘Tiada cadangan wajib suntikan vaksin kepada murid’ (No proposal to make vaccinations for students mandatory), was confusing and wrong.

“I was asked whether the ministry plans to prevent unvaccinated students from going to school. My response was that the government would never close the door on anyone when it comes to education,” he posted on Wednesday.

He said this was because vaccination and education access were different issues.

“The Education Ministry’s stand is that all Malaysians have a right and must be given access to education,” he said.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said even if students are not vaccinated because of their parents’ choice, they should not be penalised unless they are a medical threat.

“Education is a human right and shouldn’t be denied to anyone. No child should be left behind,” said Tan.

Education , Health , anti-vaccine


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