Written by Natasha Sidek

According to Merriam-Webster, anti-vaccine is defined as an opposed to the use of vaccines where a handful parents and anti-vaccine activists told lawmakers on the House Health and Human Services Committee that they believe vaccines are responsible for countless cases of autism, learning disabilities and death.

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The anti-vaccination movement is a loose organised conspiracy theorist subculture which blames the medical practice of vaccinations for a wide range of health problems.

The movement, to a large majority led by people with no medical or scientific qualifications, is based largely on alleged short and long term side effects of vaccination. Since the argument is made that vaccines are deadly poisons, the anti-vaccination movement fails to gain traction outside social media, then by necessity they argue that some kind of cover up must take place that the vaccines serve an agenda.

According to Free Malaysia Today, there are recent reports about new cases of diphtheria in Malaysia and it raised serious concerns about the anti-vaccine movement in Malaysia. It was reported that a two-year-old boy from Kedah and a seven-year-old girl from Malacca died from diphtheria. The number of children who came in close contact with the deceased has been suspected of the disease.

The two deaths related to diphtheria have alarmed the medical community in Malaysia as diphtheria is a disease caused by bacteria from an unhealthy environment and can be prevented through immunisation. Such cases seem to indicate the growing of anti-vaccine movement in Malaysia and it has become an issue of concern.

As stated in BBC News, the news coverage on anti-vaccine movement are more largely reported in international prospect and the point of perspective are also different compared to local news agency.

Some Malaysian parents have expressed their fears of side effects and links to autism. Andrew Wakefield, who is dubbed as the ‘Father of Anti-Vaccine Movement’, allegedly found links to autism to childhood vaccines but his study was retracted in 2010 after it was proven to be an “elaborate fraud”. However, even when many other studies have debunked these myths, some parents are still suspicious to vaccination and suspected that it may have caused autism.

According to BBC News, anti-science rhetoric has serious consequences for society. The rants on social media to the belief that vaccines cause autism, scientific ignorance takes on a variety of frustrating forms.

The people who choose not to vaccinate their children have a misguided belief that vaccines contain DNA from pigs, making the vaccines forbidden or haram for Muslim families. The rumours could have started as some vaccines on the global market are cultivated using the trypsin enzyme from pigs.

But even in these cases, scholars argue that the porcine elements are negligible that Islam allows it as it saves lives. According to Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, the consultant paediatrician and neonatologist said the oral polio vaccine was a big issue because it uses trypsin from porcine sources.

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BBC News also reported on the religion sentiment that a Muslim in Asia and the East had seen “strong anti-vaccination propaganda”. The news reported that the rumours had been spread that a conspiracy to control or even harm the Muslim population was being initiated through administered vaccinations.

The anti-vaccine movement is giving diseases a second life as reported in local news. Even though Malaysia achieved low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases for diseases such as diphtheria and neonatal tetanus, these diseases have not been eradicated completely. Many of the viruses and bacteria are still circulating in this country and that is why it is important that children especially infants and young children receive the recommended immunisations on time.

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The investigative reporting from The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centres for Disease Control in the YS and the Ministry of Health of Malaysia have unequivocally stated that none of the vaccines given singularly or simultaneously causes autism.

Every propaganda from the anti-vaccine movement should be confirmed and study by all parent so they will not be manipulated by the movement. Evidence has shown that scientifically vaccine would not harm people either in autism or any other diseases. The issues on pig enzyme also being highlighted and should not be worried by the parents as it is clear from it.