LAST_UPDATETue, 17 Jul 2018 10pm

Baby's Diphtheria Death: Don't Doubt Vaccines' Halal Status, Says Health Ministry

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has urged Muslim parents not to doubt the halal status of vaccines administered on their children, including that for diphtheria.

Health Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the ministry conducts checks on all vaccines it obtains, and rejects those containing porcine deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Despite this, he said that there are Muslim parents who still refuse vaccines for their children due to doubts over their halal status.

"(Vaccines) provided by the government are all halal, and the National Fatwa Council has also issued a statement (to that effect)," he said.

Hilmi was responding to reports of the death of a 2-month-old child who was infected with diphtheria, and was found not to have been vaccinated upon the family's request.

He advised Muslim parents to trust data provided by experts, and to steer clear of information circulated on social media.

"In Malaysia, there is only one vaccine which contains porcine DNA – the Rotavirus vaccine. The government does not buy the Rotavirus vaccine. It is only available in private clinics to treat severe diarrhoea," he said.

Hilmi added that each year, the federal government allocates RM120 million to purchase vaccines for 12 types of viruses. The vaccines are provided free of charge to all babies until they reach the age of 3.

The ministry is also advising parents who have not had their children vaccinated to do so immediately to protect them from exposure to deadly infections.

Meanwhile, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that although no punishment is imposed on parents or guardians who fail to get immunisation for their children, they need to be aware of the impact of their decision, especially on kids aged 7 and below.

"Last year, a total of 32 diphtheria-positive cases were reported nationwide, involving 7 deaths. What's more worrying is that all those deaths were due to the stubbornness of certain people who refused to get their children immunised,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that diphtheria infection could be avoided if children receive the 'five-in-one' injection administered at age 2, 3 and 5 months, with a booster given when they reach 18 months.