Health Minister Adham Baba reiterated this stand in a written parliamentary reply to his predecessor Dzulkefly Ahmad today, stating that the government will instead take an “educational approach” instead of mandating vaccination.
“After examining the aspects of implementation and the implications of practicing legal measures, the Ministry of Health decided to approach this issue without implementing legal measures to mandate childhood immunization,” Adham said.
Adham added: “The approach on vaccination will be to enhance the current services, which includes an increase in the efforts to detect missed vaccinations, educational approaches, and promotions.”
Dzulkefly had asked about the ministry’s efforts to ensure infants get the five-line vaccination shots to protect them from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis as well as Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib).
None of these vaccinations – suited for babies between two and 18 months old – have been made compulsory in Malaysia since they were introduced in 2008. The Health Ministry did, however, produce a recommended timeline to guide the public on when they should vaccinate their babies.
Over the years, there have been calls by the public and health spokespersons to enforce mandatory childhood immunization in the nation.
In 2019, the Malaysian Medical Association urged the government to make childhood vaccinations mandatory after reports that a three-month-old had caught polio, 27 years after the disease was eradicated.
In the same year, the Asia Pacific Pediatric Association suggested that the government make immunization against diphtheria and measles compulsory as a prerequisite for children to enroll in schools.
The resistance towards mandatory vaccination in Malaysia have been attributed to widespread belief in alternative healing as well as religious concerns, even though the health ministry has confirmed that vaccines are halal.
Many Malaysians still apply for vaccinations for some diseases. According to the World Health Organization last month, around 90% to 99% of Malaysian children and adults have been immunized against tuberculosis and Hepatitis B.
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This article, Vaccination still not compulsory in Malaysia despite public pressure, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!