Subramaniam wants more time on compulsory vaccination


KUALA LUMPUR: Vaccination will not be made compulsory for the time being but there is a need to further educate parents on the importance of having their children immunised, says Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam.

Noting that not all matters could be enforced by law, he said nevertheless, awareness on vaccination to prevent diseases like diphtheria, measles and others was still low among parents, especially in rural areas.

Yesterday, education minister Mahdzir Khalid had said that he hoped to enforce compulsory vaccination of school students this year or early next year. He said the education ministry was awaiting a full report from the health ministry before seeking Cabinet approval of the policy.

However Subramaniam said today that the focus was “to continue to give people the correct idea that they are not living on an isolated island by themselves and they are endangering others if their children are not vaccinated”.

Speaking to reporters while on a visit to the Tamil school in Ampang today, he said he expected challenges in tackling three groups, namely the anti-vaccine group, hardcore poor and migrants.

Expressing concern over the spread of diphtheria, he called on parents to be more open about having their children vaccinated to keep it in check.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was also looking at cooperating with the women, family and community development ministry on educating the public on vaccination as it involved families.

“They can play a role as you may have the mother who wants to get the child vaccinated but the father refuses. These are complex issues that need to be addressed accordingly.”

There have been 13 confirmed diphtheria cases nationwide, of which five were fatal.