‘Medical practitioners affected by halal debate over vaccination’

vaccination-halal-1KUALA LUMPUR: Doubts over whether vaccines are halal or not have led to resistance within Malaysia’s circle of medical practitioners, with some doctors and nurses objecting to the practice of vaccination.

Dr Rozita Rahman, who is assistant director of the health ministry’s Family Health Development division, said this attitude was mainly due to misinformation over the content of vaccines.

Speaking to FMT after the official launch of G25’s vaccination awareness event today, she said the ministry conducted health education sessions, adding that nurses or doctors who were known to be against vaccination would undergo counselling.

“The nurses mostly will accept vaccination after going through counselling. However, the problem arises when their husbands or families are still sceptical about it,” she said.

Rozita said it was important for medical practitioners and members of the public to share the right information on the importance of vaccination.

“Parents who come to hospitals to get their children vaccinated will be informed of the vaccines’ contents and the importance of vaccination.

“So this is where they have to play their role to disseminate the right information to their families on why vaccination is important.”

Rozita said according to ministry records, there were over 800 cases of vaccination refusals reported between January and June this year.

Former health ministry director-general Dr Ismail Merican, who was present during the launch, said this issue was not unique to Malaysia.

“This is a global issue in which naysayers and religious bigots feel uncomfortable when it comes to vaccination,” he said, adding that countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria also faced similar challenges.

G25 member Dr Narimah Awin said vaccinations were the best option to combat deadly infections when no alternatives were available.

She added that people should not equate rotavirus vaccines which contain porcine or pig DNA with other vaccines.

“In this case, other vaccines do not contain porcine, only rotavirus vaccines.

“However, even so, there are other alternatives to prevent rotavirus, one of which is to manage cleanliness.

“Our focus now is the prevalent vaccines which children require because there are no other alternatives.”

According to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010, DNA fragments of porcine circovirus (PCV1) were discovered in the rotavirus vaccine known as Rotarix, while PVC1 and porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) was found in another vaccine called RotaTeq.

The report defined circoviruses as “animal viruses with small, circular, single-stranded DNA genomes” which are known to infect birds and pigs.

This means that the vaccines in question contain DNA from viruses which infect pigs.

At its event today, G25 released two videos directly addressing the importance of vaccination in an effort to curb the spread of misleading information and irrelevant fear surrounding the practice.

The videos are titled “Apakah itu vaksin?” (What are vaccines?) and “Adakah vaksin itu haram dan sebabkan autisma?” (Are vaccines prohibited and do they cause autism?).

They are available on YouTube and on G25’s official website.

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