Halal Vaccine and the Ethical Dimension of Vaccination Programmes
By 2017, Malaysia plans to be the main global producer of halal vaccines as announced by its Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed, at the World Halal Forum 2014 in Kuala Lumpur. A Saudi corporation, he added, has already invested USD 100 million in the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) to produce halal vaccines for meningitis, hepatitis, and meningococcal.
Despite such development, only less than a year ago, the Health Exco of Penang state government in a press statement denounced parental refusal to vaccinate their children primarily due to religious reasons. He pointed out that the government’s immunisation requirement has met with scepticism from parents, especially middle class parents. The Exco’s concern is valid and legitimate given the risk associated with the lack of vaccination, such as a fatal case involving an unvaccinated four-year-old child due to diphtheria, as the child’s parents were doubtful of the safety, efficacy, as well as the halal status of vaccines. These instances beg a question as to how the new halal vaccines industry in Malaysia would address the ethical predicaments in vaccination.