Anti-vaccine movement on the rise in Malaysia

More and more Malaysian parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children for religious reasons prompting concern amongst health officials.

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Paediatrician Musa Mohamad Nordin prepares a vaccine and administers it to a less than pleased child.

Health officials here in Muslim majority Malaysia are worried as more and more parents opt out of immunisation programmes for religious reasons.

Malaysian Health Minister S. Subramanian said: "Our concern is, if left uncontrolled, what will happened in the long term if these numbers continue to increase, then it might have a significant effect on the health of the nation as a whole."

Misinformation within the Muslim community is rampant that some vaccines contain ingredients like pig DNA, which is forbidden by Islam.

Malaysia's highest Islamic body says vaccines with non-halal components are allowed when alternatives aren't available.

Still, some parents aren't convinced. A recent forum on the benefits of vaccines left some sceptical.

"Parents don't know where to turn when there are adverse affects from vaccines," one parent said. "They have to use other methods like alternative therapies."

Officials say five children have died from diphtheria since June.