PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has directed all health clinics to avoid giving babies two types of immunization jabs on the same day.
Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said immunization shots were supposed to be given one at a time at intervals outlined in the National Immunisation Schedule.
“Giving two jabs at the same time happens when the immunization schedule is breached,” he said, calling on parents to strictly abide by the national immunization schedule.
However, in cases where they may have missed the schedule, parents could discuss with healthcare personnel to re-schedule the immunization date to ensure only one jab was given per session, he said.
“We have informed healthcare personnel in clinics of this,” he said.
Dr Lokman said this in response to pleas by parents who claimed that their children became autistic after being administered with two types of vaccine on the same day when they were 18 months old.
He pointed out that there were no scientific evidence linking autism to MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
According to the current immunization schedule in Malaysia, children at the age of 18 months were given a single shot of five-in-one vaccine DTaP-Hib/IPV (difteria, tetanus, pertusis, hemophillus influenza B and Polio).
“It is given in a single jab. This is the same vaccine given at the age of two months, three months and five months.
“Therefore, there is no association between the vaccine given at the age of 18 months and autism,” he said.
Dr Lokman said attempts to link MMR immunization to autism were made based on evidence reported by Dr Andrew Wakefield in a 1998 study published in theLancet medical journal.
However, the Lancet had in 2004 retracted the interpretation of the Wakefield report, and subsequently retracted the entire report in 2010 on grounds of insufficient data, as the study was based only on 12 children.
Dr Lokman noted that a study conducted between 1988 and 1996 in Yokohama, Japan, on 31,426 children showed that the number of autism cases did not drop despite a drop in MMR immunization rate.
“The study also showed a significant increase in autism cases, especially after 1993.
“In Malaysia, a study conducted in five districts between 2005 and 2006 showed there were two cases of autism for every 1,000 children aged between 18 months and three years.
“This is within the global range of one to six cases among every 1,000 children,” he said.
The Health Ministry had started collecting specific data on autism since 2004, he said.
“Within 12 years from between 2004 and 2015, we have identified 1,808 autism cases involving children below the age of seven,” Dr Lokman said.
Meanwhile, Persama (Pertubuhan Sayang Malaysia) Together For Autism founder Thila Laxshman said many parents in the group had similar experience whereby their children became autistic after getting two injections of vaccines on the same day.
After the injections, the children had fever and subsequently stopped talking, lost eye contact, had difficulty sleeping at night and threw tantrums to the point of meltdown.
“Our children were born normal but developed brain development disorders after the injections,” she said.
Thila, who is a singer, called on the authorities to seriously look into the possible link between autism and double vaccination.
A couple, Felix Edward Wilson and his wife Agnes Nathan, said their son Kevin became autistic after receiving two jabs of different types of vaccines at the age of two.
“Our son was born normal. He was able to string words into sentences at the age of eight months. He could sing nursery rhymes.
“Even before the age of one, he could tell the difference between a purse and a wallet.
“After the double vaccine shots, he lost his ability to talk. There was no more eye contact,” said Felix of his son, who is now 19.
Another parent, who wants to be known only as Fatima, forks out RM8,000 a month to give her five-year-old autistic son the best early intervention programmes available.
“He goes to an international school, undergoes private therapy sessions at home, and I put him on a routine detoxification regime using natural products.
“I have also engaged someone to follow him to school, and to attend to his needs,” said the former flight attendant.
Another parent who wants to be known only as Sasha said she had to quit her clerical job to take care of her eight-year-old autistic son.
Sasha said her son, who was born normal, was diagnosed as autistic after he was immunized with fortified MMR vaccine.
“A couple of days after the injection, he suffered from a very high fever and became motionless for an hour.
“He opened his eyes after being administered with suppository medication. He was never the same since then,” she said.