Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for the country not to rush in pushing out Covid-19 vaccines without first communicating to the public clearly on their halal status, Reuters reported.

Concerns over halal status of vaccines

The president of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, also known as Jokowi, said: “I ask that this vaccine is not rushed because it’s so complex.”

He added that he wants to ensure that there is “good preparation” on public communication, especially when it comes to “halal and haram, the price, and quality”.

Concerns over the halal status of vaccines among the public have stalled the country’s public health responses previously in 2018 when the Indonesian Ulema Council — the country’s top Muslim clerical body — issued a fatwa declaring a measles vaccine was haram, or forbidden under Islam.

Millions of parents then shunned the vaccine, resulting in a sharp drop in vaccine coverage for measles.

Previously, Indonesia’s Vice President and senior Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin has said it is “not a problem” if the Covid-19 vaccine is not halal as it is “an emergency situation”, The Jakarta Post reported.

But in another statement, Indonesia’s Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who also heads the country’s Covid-19 response team, said the government will ensure the vaccine would receive halal certification.

Indonesia to get vaccines from China and the U.K.

Indonesia has struck a deal with China for 40 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

It has also secured a deal with United Kingdom-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

The country, which is worst hit by the pandemic among all Asean member countries, is struggling to contain the pandemic, which has infected more than 365,000 people and caused over 12,600 deaths.

According to The Jarkarta Post, Indonesia is hoping to contain the viral outbreak by rolling out the Covid-19 vaccines.

Its quest to seek vaccines has been criticised by epidemiologists as their efficacy and safety have yet to be proven.

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