Stern action to be taken against doctors who prescribe alternative MMR vaccine, says Deputy Health Minister


PETALING JAYA: Stern action will be taken against doctors and those who promote alternatives to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye (pic).

While he respects those who are against vaccination as they have the right to voice their concerns, he hopes they will not “convey a mes­sage that is wrong or confusing to the public”.“We know there are those who advocate alternatives, which clearly do not work. There are also those who advocate homeopathy – the natural way.

“If there are doctors who are involved in such practices, we will take action against them.

“Those who promote alternative methods, we too will take action against them because they are conducting a practice that will harm the health of a child,” he said during a press conference at the launch of the Halcyon radiotherapy machine at Beacon Hospital yesterday. The Halcyon radiotherapy machine is said to be the first of its kind in South-East Asia to treat cancer.

As part of Beacon Hospital’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, the hospital also launched a RM3mil Halcyon Radiotherapy Welfare to lessen the financial burden of cancer patients.

Dr Lee said he was not worried about other vaccines such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio as coverage was above 95%. But the MMR coverage in the country was still short; where coverage was only at 89% in 2017 and rose to 90% in 2018.

He said in order to enable a herd immunity, at least 95% of the community had to be vaccinated and added the MMR vaccine was usually given to those who were nine months old.He said the ministry had the data to prove that the vaccine was “safe and effective” for children.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim said registered medical practitioners were expected to practise evidence-based medicine and should refrain from practising unapproved or non-evidence-based therapy.

“If one has strong conviction against vaccination, one should be transparent and advise the patient to seek treatment elsewhere.

“They should not force one’s views which may be against the view held by the majority in the profession on the patient,” he said.

Dr Mohamed Namazie said most parents obtained information on the dangers of vaccines from non-credible sources, and that their fear of vaccination may be legitimate.

However, he said there must be concerted efforts by the Health Ministry to allay the fear with evidence of the safety of the vaccines.

He said medical practitioners who practise alternative therapy like traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) must be qualified and registered under the TCM Act.

Dr Mohamed Namazie said the Medical Council could take action against a medical practitioner if it could be proven that the person had been practising unapproved therapy.