Millions of Indonesian children won’t be vaccinated after islamic scholars refer to the medical procedure as ‘not halal’
A nationwide vaccination campaign set up to immunize 32 million Indonesian children against rubella and the flu is being inhibited by the reluctant attitude of a group of islamic scholars.These ‘ulamas‘ have called on the muslim population of the country to refuse vaccinations because according to them the vaccine could be unclean, says de Volkskrant.
Suspicions of the alleged ‘haram status’ of vaccines are being fed by a rumor that’s been wandering around the internet for a few years. The rumor states pig products are being used in the manufacturing process of the vaccines. In Indonesia, the country with the largest muslim population on earth, people spread this rumor eagerly. This is despite efforts of the producers and the authorities, who have constantly denied the accusation.
The final say in these sort of matters often goes to the umalas, and while the council of ulamas has not made a clear statement about the the vaccines being haram, they did not issue an ‘halal’ certificate either.
As long as that certificate is missing, muslims are advised to stay away from it, so say the scribes.
Following this statement, the province of Bangka Belitung has decided to suspend the campaign. Other regions, especially those where islam has a strong political influence, are considering to follow Bangka Belitung’s example.
The campaign suffered another major blow before it was even started. In 2016 a fake vaccines scandal, of a size that is still unknown, emerged. For years children have been injected with vitamin or sugar solutions, instead of the promised DPT vaccine. When this was discovered the actual vaccines were hastily distributed, free of charge. But the trust in them was fundamentally damaged.
In contrast to the more conservative provinces, the capital of Jakarta and its local government wants to hear no word of suspending the campaign. There, the government is doing everything in its power to get as many children as possible vaccinated. Not just against the flu and rubella, but also against diphtheria.
This is essential for Jakarta, as it will be the host of the ‘Asian Games’ later this month.
Over sixteen thousand athletes from all across Asia will compete.
The bustle of the stadiums could turn into a potential hotbed for all kinds of illnesses. An outbreak of disease is not only dangerous for the population, but it would mean a loss of face for the city that has vowed to make the 2018 edition ‘the best Asian games of all time’