DPM should not empower anti-vaxxers

DPM should not empower anti-vaxxers
By Zan Azlee

Something very disturbing came from the Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Ismail recently. But then again, ever since she took office, there have been a number of disturbing statements that she has made.

A couple of days ago, she said that it is the choice of parents whether they wanted their children vaccinated or not.

She being a mother and a medical doctor, I’m sure her statement will come as a shock to many logical and rational people out there. Who, in their right minds, would put their children’s lives at risk by not vaccinating them aside from weird and perverted cult followers whom we clearly label as the “anti-vaxxers”?

All these years I had always thought that it was compulsory by law for all Malaysian children to be vaccinated if they wanted to attend public school. I remember my parents had to provide my brothers’ and my vaccination records when we were registered in primary school.

Even when I registered my daughter for primary school three years ago, the school had requested that I provide her vaccination records. So naturally, I just figured that if a child didn’t have proper vaccinations, he or she would not be allowed to register for public school. But I was wrong.

A recent chat I had with contacts in the government informed me that it is, in fact, not a requirement for children to be vaccinated in order to be registered in school because this actually goes against the Education Ministry’s policy of inclusive access for education. Even the Education Minister Maszlee Malik has mentioned this.

This put me in a conundrum. I am a big supporter of this inclusive policy that the Education Ministry has. Education is a basic human right and everyone, no matter what ethnicity, religion, citizen status or physical ability, has a right to it. And yes, it would mean that even if someone is not vaccinated, he or she has a right to education as well.

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t even be the child’s fault if his or her parents decided not to vaccinate their child. What power of decision would a newborn have, right? And, parents who are lunatic enough not to have their child vaccinated would also be loony enough to probably forego education for them.

So that’s why having a law that states children need to be vaccinated in order to attend school might not be the best choice because children need to go to school regardless. So instead, there needs to be a law that actually makes it a crime for parents to not vaccinate their children. The health of a child is of utmost importance.

What could be the reasons anti-vaxxers believe what they believe? Is it affordability? Get real, people. If you bring your child to any government clinic or hospital, you will find that all the standard required vaccinations are so cheap and are almost practically free.

Is it religion? If they are Muslims, are they afraid that they will go to hell if their child gets injected with vaccines that could probably contain traces of pig DNA? Oh, my Allah! This is an even more ridiculous reason to not have your child vaccinated and put them at risk of dying for no reason.

I think there have been enough people of authority and with credibility saying and promoting the fact that there is more good than harm when it comes to vaccination. Even Islamic authorities have come out to say that vaccination is not haram even if certain vaccines are created using porcine-based ingredients.

There is a term in Islam known as Istihalah. It is defined as the transformation of najisor waste products into something different, usually something beneficial. Take, for example, the process of purifying wastewater into consumable water. Waste from the toilet is processed and we drink it.

And what about manure, which is basically animal faeces used to fertilise plants? Would the produce like vegetables and fruits from these plants be considered haram because there would be traces of faeces?

I think that is wrong and unethical for someone like the deputy prime minister to make light of the fact that there are parents who do not want to vaccinate their children. She needs to be firm in saying what should be said but instead, what she said shows that she is neither here nor there. That is not leadership quality.

I am a citizen of Malaysia and I believe in vaccinating my children. I strongly believe that a huge majority of Malaysians stand by this as well. We do not want our children to be put at risk by those who aren’t vaccinated. We also do not want innocent children of lunatic parents being put at risk by not being vaccinated.

Make it law that all children in Malaysia need to be vaccinated. Do it for their sake. We, the rational, logical and sane adults need to protect them. That is just the right thing to do. To our Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also a medical doctor, what do you think?

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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