KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — The Health Ministry has dismissed the need for compulsory vaccinations after the Academy of Medicine Malaysia proposed it in light of a polio outbreak in Malaysia.
The New Straits Times quoted Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye as saying that the immunisation rate for all vaccines nationwide has reached above 95 per cent following education campaigns, after the vaccination rate for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) previously dropped to below that percentage point last year that is required for herd immunity.
“As such, for the time being, I feel that there is no need for us to make vaccination compulsory. We can still approach it through education and through other measures,” Dr Lee reportedly said in Ipoh yesterday.
Academy of Medicine Malaysia master Dr Rosmawati Mohamed urged the Health Ministry to consider sanctions for not vaccinating children on “unreasonable” grounds.
“We also urge the ministry to consider providing free vaccines to all children of non-citizens without criminalising them in a system that encourages completing the course of vaccines,” she said in a statement.
The Academy expressed concern about the public health implications of not extending reasonable health services to non-citizens living in Malaysia, such as undocumented migrants, refugees and stateless people.
“While we recognise the complexity of the situation in terms of our laws, borders, sovereignty and challenges of financing, we equally believe in the principle of Health for All for ethical, humanistic and public health reasons,” Dr Rosmawati wrote.
Malaysia recently reported a polio outbreak in Tuaran, Sabah, near the Philippines that reported its eighth polio case last month. Malaysia, the Philippines and other countries in the Western Pacific region were previously declared polio-free in 2000.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 59 foreign children living near the area of the polio case in Sabah have been given the polio vaccine.
He also said the Health Ministry would work with Unicef to get a polio vaccine that has been subsidised by the United Nations body for use on foreign children in Sabah.
The Health Ministry is currently running a survey to find out if vaccinations should be made compulsory in Malaysia.