PETALING JAYA: A proposal to allow only vaccinated children to be enrolled in kindergartens is unfair as it could deny a child the right to education, says nasyid singer Suhaimi Saad, who does not subscribe to vaccination.
Speaking to FMT, Suhaimi said Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam’s announcement on the matter, showed that the government was taking a “safe approach”, but stressed that “justice” must be ensured for children who had reactions to vaccine shots, such as fevers or rashes.
“If you read comments of parents on social media, you will see that many are talking of the side effects their children have experienced.
“Vaccinations are more of a preventive measure rather than a guarantee, so to me it is unfair to make it compulsory,” he said, adding even children who were vaccinated fell ill.
Suhaimi said perhaps the government could reconsider the proposal and allow parents to be given a choice as to whether they wanted to vaccinate their children or opt for alternative treatments such as homeopathy.
The father of four added that if the government went ahead with the proposal, it would be unfair to children and their parents, as an unvaccinated child would be denied the right to education, and this would put a burden on parents.
Medical expert, Dr H Krishna Kumar, meanwhile, acknowledged there were some minor side effects from vaccination, such as fevers or nausea, but these reactions were only temporary.
“The purpose of a vaccine is to create a defense mechanism to fight a disease, so the body simulates the symptoms of the sickness after the vaccination,” said Krishna, who is the chairman of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Representative Committee.
He added that although there was a risk of more serious reactions such as anaphylaxis shock from a vaccination, this was extremely rare.
“Maybe only one in a million children will have a serious reaction.”
Kindergarten operators agree with the move
Kindergarten operator Wong Keng Shiong said she welcomed the move by the government because vaccination helped protect children from diseases.
“As a mother and teacher, this is a priority for me. We don’t want one child to spread disease to another, so I definitely agree with this proposal. We should follow the government’s vaccination list.”
Wong, whose kindergarten in Subang Jaya has about 20 students, said in her case, the parents would inform her that their children had been vaccinated.
“All of my students have been vaccinated, I believe their parents understand its importance, plus when they enter primary school they also have to give details of the vaccination jabs they’ve received so there’s no reason for them to avoid it.”
She added that making vaccination compulsory for kindergarten enrolment would ease the burden on teachers too, as there would be less reason for them to worry about diseases being spread at school.
In Senawang, Negeri Sembilan, Tadika Cahaya Inovatif operator Mohd Syofie Abdul Rami said he agreed with the move, but was concerned that not all parents could afford the various vaccination shots.
“If the government makes vaccinations compulsory, that would be good as it benefits everyone.
“But we want more information on the vaccinations because some parents may not be able to afford them. If the government makes vaccinations compulsory, then it must be subsidised, especially for those in the lower income group.”
Presently, Syofie said, during enrolment at his kindergarten, parents would have to provide details on what vaccinations had been given to their children, but they did not have a policy to turn away unvaccinated children.
“However, we do inform the parents that in the event their children have a contagious disease, they should not be brought to school. So far, we haven’t had any problems.”
Dr Subramaniam had earlier told the Dewan Rakyat that the proposal was not a form of discrimination against children who were not vaccinated, but a protective measure for other children in kindergartens.
He said the approach was also practised in Australia, with kindergartens there only enrolling vaccinated children.