Here is the article regarding vaccination by Dr Zahilah Filzah, a pediatrician of Sg Buloh Hospital as promised. I hope you’ll take time to read this article. She wrote a very precise, nice article about vaccination and I really hope we can convey this message to all mommies out there. If you have any question, please write on the comment section. Dr Zahilah or me myself will try to answer your question. I know some people are very ‘hardcore’ and can be emotional about this vaccination issue. Please don’t bang each other. We are adult and all of us has our own opinion. Don’t judge others who does or doesn’t want to give their child vaccination. We as medical providers, our job is to educate the public based on our knowledge as a doctor and Muslims.
Enjoy. And think!!
Dear BarelySupermommy readers,
I reckon that some of you may have your own stand on this matter- vaccination. While some of you may disagree, I believe majority of us still believe in vaccination as an effective preventive measure to combat certain infectious diseases. However, the last few months or so, someone may have spoken to you or you may have read on Facebook – that vaccination is not what it seemed. That it is not safe , causes autism, not ‘halal’ and that vaccines are only for profits. You googled. There were many articles on the pros but there were quite a lot on the cons as well. You read the disadvantages of vaccination and then everything seem to weigh on you. You cant help it but started to wonder if they were all true.
I believe that most misconceptions and controversies regarding vaccination stems from the fact that people underestimate the disease and overestimate the side effects. While I agree that Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) do sometimes occur , most are mild (e.g fever and soreness) and disappears rather quickly. I am sure most mothers out there would agree, having had your children vaccinated before. On the contrary, I believe not many of you have seen the diseases at their worst. Measles, for example, may be fever and red spots to most but are you aware that it can spread to the brain and cause death? Pertussis, may begin with the usual fever and cough but as it progress to the second stage of the disease, babies may have prolonged cough, turn blue and stop breathing. Polio was almost eradicated but sadly, on the rise in certain third world countries where the vaccination rate is low. Meningitis, or inflammation of the brain lining caused by Haemophilus Influenza may render a child debilitated and even cause death. Whether you like it or not , the truth is vaccination has tremendously reduce the burden of infectious diseases and has prevented deaths in millions of children all around the world.
Let’s discuss a little bit about the history of vaccines and how it works before discussing the issues because I feel that we would be able to appreciate what we have today if we knew how it all began. Have you ever heard of smallpox? Some of you may have not heard of it because the disease is no longer around. But do you know that the deadly disease was one of the most devastating diseases in the history of mankind and has in fact killed more than 500 millions people for many centuries? 500 millions! But thanks to Edward Jenner, whose work contributed to the development of vaccines, smallpox was eradicated and we don’t have to live to see our loves one dying from the disease.
How does vaccines work? Simply put, imagine a child who develops chicken pox for example, they will rarely contract the disease again . Why? Because the immune system has memory, so that the next time the child is exposed to the virus, the body remembers and destroys the virus even before it causes sickness. And vaccines works the same way, only artificially. Vaccines contains weakened or killed form of the germs, when introduced into the body triggers an immune response without causing the disease. So that the next time the children are exposed to the virus or bacteria, their antibodies would be able to recognize it and combats it.
I remember 3 years ago, a child was admitted to the ward for lung infection. Upon asking the immunisation history, we found out that the child was not vaccinated. In fact, none of his siblings were. I started to counsel the parents but I was quickly dismissed. They felt strongly against vaccination and did not want to discuss any further. Kata mereka ‘ anak anak yang lain semua okay je, tak pernah sakit pun walaupun tak divaksin’. I wanted to tell them about ‘herd immunity’ but then dropped the idea.
What is ‘herd immunity’? In other words, it’s called ‘community’ immunity. It occurs when majority of the population is vaccinated, and the immunity that is achieved by the community would be able to protect those who could not be vaccinated (due to medical reason , HIV, immunosuppresed children). I think that this has not been sufficiently emphasized- that when you get your child vaccinated , you not only protect your child from the infectious diseases but also other kids who are unfortunate enough to have low immunity to be vaccinated. I cant emphasize enough that you are doing a good deed if you get your child vaccinated. But when the rate of vaccination falls, the herd immunity is lost, and I guess you can figure out what comes next.
Having understood the basics, let’s move on to one of the most common misconception about vaccination, in particularly with the MMR vaccines. Does it cause autism? The answer is no, it does not. The scare started in 1998, when a medical journal, The Lancet published a study by Mr. Andrew Wakefield, MD (previously hold the title Dr) that stated that the combined MMR vaccine was linked to autism. However, not long after that, The Lancet itself withdrew the article and Wakefield lost his medical licence. Investigations proved that Wakefield’s research was fraud, unfounded and biased and that there were conflict of interest. His article has led to a drop in vaccination in UK and since then, many studies were done to look into whether there were any association between the MMR and autism, but none were found. Despite that, it’s sad to know that even after 2 decades, some people still believe that it does. Sigh…
The other concern is regarding the use of Thiomersal in the vaccines. Thiomersal is a mercury-based preservative that helps prevent bacterial growth in vaccines and helps maintain the effectiveness of the vaccines. Thiomersal contains ethylmercury, which basically means that it is eliminated from the body quickly and does not reach toxic level in the blood, unlike methymercury. The level of Thiomersal in the vaccines are so small , even fish contains more of it I believe. The amount of Thiomersal in the vaccine have not been shown to cause harm or health risk.
Vaccines are not ‘halal’? Hmmm… I must say that it is unfair to say that those who decided to vaccinate their children do not care of halal and haram. The Malaysian Immunization Programme is decreed permissible by JAKIM. In fact, our prominent Islamic Scholar , Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi stated that the lawfulness of vaccination in Islamic perspective is as clear as sunlight. It is the duty of every Muslim to ward off harm as much as possible, and while we all believe in natural ways to boost immunity e.g breastfeeding , taking honey ( not for those less than 1 year), Habatussauda’, olive oil, that does not mean that we Muslims should deny ourselves of modern medicine that has stood the test of time. I have always believe in complementary medicine.
I am not sure if I have covered all of your concerns but I hope this helps. You may or may not be convinced and that’s okay , as I believe conviction needs to come from one self. If you are doubtful, read further from reliable source, discuss with people who really knows and perform Istikharah. If you strongly object vaccination, my only request is that you do not pose your views on others. I am writing this merely for those who has concern and doubts, yet has not dismissed vaccination.
I strongly feel that we need to have these issues tackled at national level and it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to allay parental concerns regarding vaccination. The community needs to be educated and myths and misconceptions regarding vaccination should not be allowed to spread, or we would to have to suffer the consequences in the future.
I know the article is a bit long to read especially during fasting month ;) Anyway, personally I think that was a nicely written article, very easy to understand for all mommies out there.. Hope this article answers your questions. Please write on the comment section… Thank you!!