Indonesian fatwa causes immunization rates to drop

09 November 2018  Vol 362, Issue 6415

In Depth
Indonesian fatwa causes immunization rates to drop
By Dyna Rochmyaningsih
Science09 Nov 2018 : 628-629 Restricted Access
Clerics declare measles and rubella vaccine made with pork components impure.
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.