In DepthInfectious Diseases

Indonesian fatwa causes immunization rates to drop

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Science  09 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6415, pp. 628-629
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6415.628

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A massive vaccination campaign against measles and rubella in Indonesia is in trouble after the Indonesian Ulama Council in Jakarta issued a fatwa declaring the vaccine "haram," or forbidden under Islamic law, because pig components are used in its manufacturing. The council ruled that parents could still have their children vaccinated, given the need to protect public health. But many local clerics and confused parents have decided otherwise: The fatwa has led to a drop in vaccination rates, from 95% during the first phase of the campaign, last year on the island of Java, to 68% in the second phase, now in progress on the remaining islands. Public health experts worry the world's largest Muslim-majority country could see new waves of measles and more miscarriages and birth defects resulting from rubella infections during pregnancy.

  • * Dyna Rochmyaningsih is a science journalist in North Sumatra in Indonesia.

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