COVID vaccine to be administered only after MUI fatwa: Official

Jakarta The Indonesian government will not begin administering COVID-19 vaccines without a fatwa or a decision about the halal status of the vaccines from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the vice presidential spokesperson said.

Therefore, the COVID-19 vaccine program will be undertaken after MUI announces its decision on the halal status of the vaccine, that is, whether it is religiously acceptable for consumption according to Muslim law, Masduki Baidlowi told journalists here on Tuesday.

The Indonesian Ulema Council Assessment Institute for Foods, Drugs and Cosmetics (LPPOM MUI) team members have been working on matters related to the halal status of China's Sinovac vaccine, he said.

In connection with the government's national COVID-19 vaccination program, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has informed Vice President Ma'ruf Amin on preparations for simultaneous vaccine administration across the country, he informed.

Gunadi has also told the Vice President that the vaccination program would be conducted after MUI issues a fatwa and the Drug and Food Control Agency (BPOM) gives emergency-use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine.

One of the essential preparations for conducting the national vaccination program was distributing three million doses of Sinovac vaccine that had arrived in Indonesia in December, 2020 to all provinces, Baidlowi said.

Several provinces have received the first batch of vaccine supplies, including Banten (14,560 doses), Central Java (62,560 doses), West Sumatra (36,920 doses), West Sulawesi (5,960 doses), North Kalimantan (10,680 doses), and Papua (14,680 doses).

President Joko Widodo and several top government officials have been scheduled to get their vaccine shots on January 13, 2021, according to Presidential Secretariat head Heru Budi Hartono.

The Indonesian government is striving to win the hearts and minds of all citizens and enlist their participation for the COVID-19 immunization program.

From the start, the government has consistently expressed confidence that the COVID-19 vaccine will help contain the pandemic, which has posed a serious threat to public health and economy.

Over the past few months, it has endeavored to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines for Indonesians through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Indonesia has established cooperation with China and the United Kingdom for the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines, while at the same time, it has encouraged the development of its own COVID-19 vaccine, Merah Putih (Red and White), named after the colors of the national flag.

President Widodo recently announced his readiness to be the first recipient of the vaccine once the BPOM issues emergency-use approval.

He has been striving to convince the entire nation to participate in the vaccination program, which is considered crucial for the government's endeavors to win the fight against the ongoing pandemic.

The government is aware of the fact that not all Indonesians are keen to get vaccinated, deputy chair of the COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPC-PEN), Erick Thohir, said recently.

Research has shown that 66 percent of Indonesians are keen to get vaccinated, while 16 percent are reluctant to join the vaccination program, he revealed.

He admitted that he did not know the reasons why some people are refusing to get vaccinated.

Their hesitance could be related to the question of whether the vaccines would be "halal or haram", Thohir said adding, if that is the case, the government will let the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) resolve the matter.

To encourage Muslim communities to participate in the first phase of the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination program, Presidential Chief of Staff, Moeldoko, visited Abdullah Gymnastiar alias Aa Gym's Islamic boarding school on December 4, 2020.

During his meeting with the popular Muslim preacher at Daarut Tauhid's eco-Islamic boarding school in Bandung Barat district, West Java, Moeldoko requested him to participate in the vaccination program.

Aa Gym responded positively to Moeldoko's request and expressed his readiness to be a part of the vaccination program if the vaccines are certified as halal.

The question of halal status for COVID-19 vaccines supplied by foreign pharma companies raised by Aa Gym represents the concerns of several Muslims in the country. (INE)

Source: Antara News

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