Govt mulls action against parents who refuse to immunise kids

After the death of a boy from diphtheria, the government says parents are responsible for the wellbeing of their children. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government today warned it may take action against parents who neglect their children, including those who refuse to immunise them.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh expressed concern over the number of deaths among children who were not vaccinated and did not get the necessary immunisation.

She said parents were responsible for taking such precaution.

“We need to start looking into taking action against parents who do not want to vaccinate their children.

“We not only care about the health of their children but also the well-being of other children.

“The doctors have highlighted that there are provisions in the Child Act 2001 (for action) if there is neglect, so what are we waiting for?” Bernama quoted her as saying after officiating the Sunway Putra Mall Autsome Project, aimed at creating more awareness on autism, in Kuala Lumpur today.

According to Section 31(1)(a) of the act, any person who has in his or her care a child that is being neglected, abandoned or exposed in a manner likely to cause him or her physical or emotional injury can be fined not exceeding RM20,000 or sentenced to jail for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.

Yeoh urged parents who have yet to vaccinate their children to come forward and ensure that they are given immunisation according to the schedule set by the health ministry.

On Feb 23, a two-year-old boy in Johor, who was not immunised, was believed to have died from diphtheria infection.

Five children believed to have been in contact with the boy are in quarantine at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital after they tested positive for the disease.

Yeoh also said a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for the police and frontliners in the government handling cases involving persons with disabilities including autism would be introduced in April.

She said the SOP was in response to a case on Sept 11 last year in which an autistic man was detained and investigated in connection with a suspected molest case.

“My ministry and the police and several NGOs are gathering information and feedback and will conduct a workshop to draw up the SOP,” she said.