KUALA LUMPUR: The majority of parents who refused to vaccinate their children in 2016 were from Perak, Terengganu and Pahang, the health ministry revealed today.
These parents mostly objected to the vaccinations on religious grounds, said Dr Rozita Rahman, the ministry’s family health development division assistant director.
During the first six months of this year, the ministry recorded over 800 cases of parents refusing vaccinations.
A study by the ministry showed that last year, there were 285 objections in Perak, followed by Terengganu (233), Pahang (178), Kedah (172) and Selangor (151).
Labuan had one incident of a parent refusing to vaccinate their child.
“They are unsure if the vaccine is halal (permissible) or haram (prohibited).
“Other than questioning whether there is porcine DNA in the vaccines or not, they also fear that it contains prohibited substances or chemicals such as mercury,” Rozita told FMT after the official launch of Vaccination Awareness videos by the G25 civil group.
Some of the apprehension towards the vaccines stem from wrong information disseminated over the internet by “anti-vaxxers”.
“Anti-vaxxers” are those who oppose vaccines, with some claiming it could cause a child to become autistic.
Rozita said many also believed that alternative medicines such as homeopathy can prevent or cure children from viral and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis (TB), diphtheria, polio and measles.
“This is prevalent in northern states like Kedah and Perak.”
According to her, the data reported by her ministry did not show any distinctions between urban and rural negative perceptions towards vaccination.
She said the ministry is working closely with religious authorities to change public perceptions about vaccinations.
G25 member Dr Yahya Awang, who voiced concerns in regards to the anti-vaccination movement, reiterated today that parents refused to get their children vaccinated due to claims that it is haram and that it may cause autism.
Referring to five deaths caused by diphtheria infection, which causes the neck to swell up causing what is referred to as bull neck, Yahya claimed that the disease was once thought to have been eradicated in Malaysia.
The sudden surge of diphtheria not only killed five victims last year, but also resulted in the first adult infection in the country’s history.
The G25 animated videos address the importance of vaccinations and stops the spread of misleading information about vaccination.
The videos, in Bahasa Malaysia, are titled: ‘Apakah itu Vaksin?’ (What are vaccines?), and ‘Adakah vaksin itu haram dan sebabkan autisma?’ (Are vaccines haram and do they cause autism?).
The videos are available on YouTube and at G25’s official website.