‘Vaccine denial’ behind measles deaths in south Thailand

  • AseanPlus News
  • Friday, 19 Oct 2018

Cause for concern: The main cause of the outbreak of measles in southern Thailand is the large number of Muslims refusing to take the vaccine. — AFP

Bangkok: The “vaccine denial” common in some Muslim communities has contributed to the deaths of at least six patients, including children, during a measles outbreak in the far South.

Though vaccines are proven to prevent diseases, the Department of Disease Control is worried that a measles epidemic is quickly spreading in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat due to a large proportion of the residents rejecting immunisation for religious reasons.

The main cause of the mass outbreak of measles in the far South is the large number of Muslims who are refusing to take the vaccine, said Vaccine Preventable Diseases Division director Dr Pornsak Yoocharoen.

They have been incorrectly taught that these vaccines are haram, forbidden for Muslims to use or consume.

“The refusals continue even though the Sheikhul Islam Office has already told the Muslim communities in Thailand that the use of vaccines is not against the Islamic teaching,” he said.

Sheikhul Islam Office secretary Sutham Boonmalert last Thursday directly addressed the issue, saying that though some vaccines contain ingredients derived from pigs, which are forbidden for Muslims, it was more important for a good Muslim to remain in good physical health at all times.

Therefore, until alternative vaccines that do not contain haram ingredients are invented, Muslims may use vaccines without having to worry that they are violating the Islamic doctrine, Sutham stated. — The Nation/Asia News Network

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