Most Malaysians have most likely adapted to staying at home now, since the MCO has been in effect for more than a month. This new reality we’re facing thankfully comes with some guidelines, which have been introduced subsequently by the government in every phase of the MCO.
Since we’ve just entered Phase 4, there are some leeways introduced by the government which gives us ‘some’ freedom to move about—while still complying with the control order.
Apart from being able to work at full capacity and go out to buy groceries in pairs, the Health DG announced that parents are actually allowed and encouraged to immunise (vaccinate) their children during the MCO period.
Now the last thing anyone would want, is to spend a night in jail or pay a hefty fine for breaking the law set in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) Regulations.
So here’s what you can do to comply with the MCO and protect your child(ren) during the control order.
There are certain SOPs you need to follow
Unless there’s a medical emergency, you can’t simply take your child out on a joyride during the MCO. But circumstances such as immunisations are allowed, as long as you can prove it to the authorities.
The Senior Principal Assistant Director at the Ministry of Health’s Family Health Development Division, suggests that parents make an appointment with the clinic before taking their child to one for their immunity shots. This can somewhat make the process fast and safe, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now if you encounter a roadblock, ensure that you have your child’s immunisation record book to show the authorities the reason for your travels. This would act as proof as to why you’re out with your child during the MCO.
Once you arrive at the clinic, there are medical SOPs the clinic needs to comply with for safety. This includes conducting a general screening on the parent and child. Medical staff are required to conduct a temperature check and ask questions about travel history and flu-symptoms to the parent(s) of the child. This is normally done before you’re allowed to enter the clinic with your child.
If you and your spouse happen to take your child together to the clinic, take note that only one parent is allowed to accompany the child for his/her immunisation shot.
As much as you’d want to avoid leaving your house at all costs, it is still important to follow up with you child’s immunisation check-ups to prevent other diseases from becoming widespread. The Chairman of Immunise4life stressed on getting children immunised despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as other diseases also pose a threat. Here’s how he put it:
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently issued a statement warning that disruption to routine immunisation activities, even for a short period of time, will raise the likelihood of outbreak-prone vaccine preventable diseases. These include measles, diphtheria, pertussis and so on.” – Datuk Dr Zulkifli, Chairman of Immunise4life.
Malaysia encountered an outbreak of polio in Sabah, which is pretty much a comeback for the virus 27 years later. In order to avoid preventable diseases like this from happening again, MOH has decided to continue giving routine immunisation services during the MCO and COVID-19 pandemic.
But what if you cannot take your child for his immunisation shots, can you be fined or jailed for that instead?
There are no laws to immunise children
Malaysia does not have any legislations on mandatory vaccinations for children. So, parents can actually refuse to have their children vaccinated, with no legal action taken against them.
However, there may be other parts of the law that can make this illegal. Section 31 of the Child Act 2001 states:
So if you’re responsible for the child, and expose him to eminent danger—you can be fined up to RM20,000, imprisoned up to 10 years or both. However, there have been arguments that this is quite far-fetched, since the Act doesn’t specify vaccinations and no cases has been brought to court so far.
But nevertheless, parents have the responsibility to care for the well-being of their children—which includes the health of the child. The Ministry of Health (MOH) also introduced the National Immunisation Programme to help us understand how immunisation works during the pandemic.
Immunisation shots are available at all government clinics
Children can receive up to 12 immunisation shots for free via the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). The immunisation shots are given at all government clinics at no cost, while private clinics may charge a fee. Parents who want their children to receive additional vaccines need to pay a certain fee at both private and government clinics.
To make parents’ lives easier, MOH also introduced an immunity schedule/chart for as to when children will need to get their shots.
The schedule lists down the 12 diseases that children can get immunisation shots, for free. Now if you’re worried about taking your child to government clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should know that not all clinics are testing for COVID-19. You can find about which clinic does tests here, if you’re worried about the virus.
However, the Health Ministry has ensured that precautionary measures are taken in order to prevent the widespread of COVID-19 among patients who come to government clinics.