Health Ministry mulls mandatory measles, diphtheria shots

Health Ministry mulls mandatory measles, diphtheria shots

KUALA LUMPUR,. The Health Ministry is considering making the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) as well as diphtheria vaccines compulsory for children enrolling for school, Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.

The health minister said this was a suggestion from the Malaysian Paediatric Association that a government task force on vaccination would consider, among others, amid the resurgence of preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria due to increased anti-vaccine attitudes.

“We can make it compulsory for one or two vaccines,” Dzulkefly told a press conference here.

Anti-vaccination advocates have especially objected against the MMR vaccine based on the false belief that it causes autism.

A recent major study conducted among 650,000 Danish children has again confirmed that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Just prior to the minister’s remarks, however, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said immunisations were the prerogative of parents.

Dzulkefly said today that the vaccination task force must consider the pros and cons of mandatory vaccination.

“It’s based on what’s best for parents.”

Education Minister Maszlee Malik said yesterday that vaccines and the right to education were separate matters, pointing out that vaccinations were under the Health Ministry whereas the Education Ministry believed that all Malaysian children have the right to education without discrimination.

Parent groups also told Malay Mail that they were against school vaccination laws, stressing the right to parents’ choice on whether to vaccinate their child.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said recently that the MMR vaccination rate stood at 89 per cent in 2018, lower than the required 95 per cent for herd immunity.