Subramaniam: Diphtheria victims from poor families, not anti-vaccine


KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will identify groups left out of the immunisation programme, including the poor.
Its minister, Dr S Subramaniam, said the measure would be taken following the death of two children in Malacca and Kedah due to diphtheria.

“This needs to be addressed. The families (of two children) failed to give them the complete vaccination regime due to poverty and a nomadic lifestyle.

“They are not anti-vaccine, but were left out because of socio-economic issues, whereas the immunisation programme is free-of-charge,” he told reporters after the ministry’s break of fast with the media here yesterday.

The ministry, in collaboration with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, will identify and trace the groups to ensure that they get a complete vaccination.

Commenting on the anti-vaccine group, Subramaniam said the ministry would step up its awareness campaign to change the negative perception of vaccines.

“For now, it (vaccination) is not a must. We encourage parents to ensure that their children received it and many have followed.

“For a start, we will increase their awareness. Then, we will look at other approaches,” he said.

He said although the vaccine jabs might cause minimal side effects, such as swelling and fever, such a protection was important and considered safe.

“Vaccines are evaluated in terms of quality, efficacy and safety in which it must be clinically proven before it is registered by the drugs control agency and the Health Ministry.

“It is a must before it is made available in the Malaysian market,” he said, adding the government spends RM100 million annually on vaccines.