Drop in inoculation rate troubles Health Ministry as anti-vaxxer group gains strength

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye speaks to reporters after launching the ‘Jom Hapuskan Aedes’ information corner by the Kinta district Health Department and Ipoh South Rotary Club in Ipoh February 24, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye speaks to reporters after launching the ‘Jom Hapuskan Aedes’ information corner by the Kinta district Health Department and Ipoh South Rotary Club in Ipoh February 24, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Feb 24 — Parents who are influenced by anti-vaccine groups have caused the number of children vaccinated against measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) to drop to 89 per cent.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said to ensure the population is protected from the infectious diseases, ideally the coverage should be 95 per cent.

“To avoid infectious diseases from turning into an epidemic, 95 per cent of the population has to be vaccinated,” he said.

Dr Lee said although vaccinated, it does not mean they are 100 per cent protected.

“Some do not have measles antibody (despite vaccination). That is why we need 95 per cent vaccination coverage. Sadly there are the anti-vaccine groups. We would like to stress that from the religious, health and scientific aspect, vaccination is proven to protect,” he added.

Dr Lee was speaking to reporters after opening the “Jom Hapuskan Aedes” information corner by Kinta district Health Department and Ipoh South Rotary Club at Greentown Health Clinic here today.

The Gopeng MP was asked to comment on the death of a toddler in Johor Baru from severe diphtheria on Thursday.

Expressing his regret over the matter, Dr Lee said the sickness was avoidable with vaccine.

“Parents who are influenced by anti-vaccine groups fail to understand that vaccines used in Malaysia are safe and proven effective through extensive scientific studies,” he said.

The ministry, added Dr Lee, would increase the promotion and education exercise of the importance of vaccination.