Proving that dumbness can indeed go viral, the anti-vaccination movement here has been picking up steam in the past couple of years—with the latest anti-vaxxer outing himself being nasyid singer Mohd Suhaimi Saad, who relies on water fortified with prayer to treat his kids’ illnesses.
But not for much longer. The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry reminded parents that they can be charged under a 2015 amendment to the Child Act, for exposing children to injury. Not just their children, hopefully, but children in general, just to underline how herd immunity works.
If charged, anti-vaxxers face up to 20 years in jail, and a fine of RM50,000.
The anti-vaxxing movement—which is said to have originated in Kedah—has been in the news of late because five people, including three kids, have died from diphtheria recently, while measles cases have shot up 340 percent from last year. But it started a while back, with over 12,000 parents refusing to vaccinate their kids in 2014 alone, up from 470 in 2013.
While some American anti-vaxxers believe vaccines cause autism and allergies, others are suspicious of the motivations of Big Pharma and the Illuminati, or the government taking away their freedom. Esai Morales—who was on NYPD Blue and played Adama’s dad in Caprica—thinks vaccines are part of the UN’s secret plan to depopulate the world. Over here, it’s largely based on fears that vaccines contain pig DNA.
Scarily, an AAAI and Microsoft study conducted earlier this year on anti-vaxxers on social media found that many exhibited “characteristics of paranoid thinking,” and were by and large conspiracy nuts, or at least people who were disposed to becoming conspiracy nuts.
Meaning that the more that health officials try to raise awareness on the importance of herd immunity—which is what the Health Ministry here was trying to do—the more it reinforces the conspiracy nut narrative that the government is covering up something nefarious.
The study suggested that what was needed to defeat the movement was to “weaken the long-term government conspiracy base,” which seems quite impossible. Pity they can’t do what we are threatening to do here, and just throw them in jail.