Vaccination rates have plummeted significantly since the ruling was imposed in August, causing alarm among public health officials concerned that the world’s largest Muslim-majority country could see a rise of measles and miscarriages and health defects caused from rubella infections during pregnancy.
Just last year, the country’s Ministry of Health launched a large-scale vaccination ambitious catchup campaign targeting 67 million children aged between nine months to 15 years.
Yet the plan ran into difficulty in August after the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) determined the vaccine as “haram,” despite lobbying efforts from the Health Ministry to declare it halal.
It oversees all of Indonesia’s mosques and Muslim organizations, with the power to issue halal certifications and even regulate Islamic banking.
President Jokowo Widodo, who is running for re-election next April, recently chose MUI leader Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate, causing concern among who human rights campaigners claim that Amin is a religious extremist who preaches discrimination against homosexuals and the enforcement of blasphemy laws.