KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 – The Health Ministry will be tabling a proposal to make vaccinations compulsory amid a drop in vaccination coverage and rising cases of preventable diseases.
Bernama reported Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying that he would bring the matter to the Health Ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting and to the Cabinet after if there was support.
“I believe there will be arguments for and against the proposal, and the ministry will consider all views seriously,” Dzulkefly was quoted saying in Langkawi last night.
New Straits Times reported Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye as saying that the vaccination for children aged nine months and above was only at 89 per cent. Coverage of 95 per cent is required for herd immunity.
“The percentage of children getting their first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) by their fifth birthday has reached our target but not for the vaccination given to children nine-months-old and above which is now only at 89 per cent.
“This is not a safe phase should we want to prevent measles as we need to reach 95 per cent in order to control any outbreaks. Unfortunately, some parents have largely been influenced by anti-vaccination groups,” Dr Lee was quoted saying in Penang today.
An unvaccinated two-year-old boy died of diphtheria in Johor Baru last Thursday, marking the first case of the preventable disease this year after five children below 10 (four of whom were not immunised) died from the disease in 2018.
The Health Ministry said last month that measles cases increased by 891.8 per cent over the last five years from 2013 to 2018, while the number of vaccine rejections at government clinics almost tripled from 2013 to 2016.