ICom instructs Health Ministry to disclose vaccine contraindication details

February 2020: Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign in the Maldives. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Information Commissioner’s Office has instructed the Health Ministry to disclose details of all contraindications of vaccines administered in the Maldives. 

The Commissioner’s Office did so after a private individual requested the Health Ministry for the information under the Right to Information granted by the Constitution. 

The private individual then took the matter to the Commissioner’s Office after the Health Ministry failed to provide all of the required information in the stipulated time frame. 

An online hearing of the case carried out by Commissioner Hussain Fiyaz today where both parties were present. The Commissioner warned against any rhetoric or speech in today’s hearing that could create fear in the hearts of the society during the situation COVID-19. 

The private individual said that the Ministry had provided a leaflet of contraindications after the stipulated timeframe had passed. The individual argued that the leaflet did not contain the information requested such as the contraindications of all vaccines and barely consisted of half of the information initially requested. 

The Health Ministry argued that the requested information had been provided despite a delay. When questioned by the Commissioner as to what was provided, the Ministry officials said that the leaflets made public by the Ministry contained all the information and that the information was not something undisclosed. 

The Ministry also stated that the information was all available through the WHO website, to which the Commissioner countered by saying that not everyone was able to read English. 

“My grandmother may wish to know the information of vaccines and their outcomes. She wouldn’t know to check the WHO website. How can the information be provided to her?” asked the Commissioner. 

The Ministry officials then stated that the information was provided to parents upon administration and that there were leaflets in Dhivehi as well. 

The Commissioner decided that the matter did not fall into any exceptional areas and instructed the Ministry to disclose the necessary information. 

There have been some instances of Anti-Vax rhetoric in the Maldives as of recently. The recently rolled out COVID-19 vaccine has also faced similar rhetoric.