The Indonesian Supreme Islamic Authority has issued a fatwa against the measles vaccine and declared that it is religiously forbidden, but leaves room for its use out of necessity.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) says that the vaccine against measles and rubella of the country contains ingredients derived from pigs, which is prohibited in Islam.
However, the organization says that Muslims in the country can continue to use the vaccine until a religiously acceptable or halal version can be developed due to the risks associated with non-vaccination.
"There is information from experts who are competent and familiar with the dangers that are caused by not being immunized", wrote Dr. H. Hasanuddin, chairman of the fatwa committee of MUI, in the fatwa.
A fatwa is a statement about Islamic law issued by a recognized authority.
The MUI fatwa also calls on the Indonesian government to guarantee the availability of halal vaccines & # 39; in the future and to force its current supplier, the Serum Institute of India, to abandon the use of religiously prohibited ingredients.
The Serum Institute of India has not responded to a request for comment from Global News.
Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, with more than 87 percent of the population identifying as Muslims, according to the Pew Research Center.
The MUI has a substantial presence in Indonesia, including the power to certify halal products. The leader, Ma & # 39; ruff Amin, runs next to the incumbent president, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, for Vice President of Indonesia.
"If there is a MUI fatwa against it [the vaccine]that will be a real obstacle to public health efforts, "Professor Tim Lindsey, director of the Center for Indonesian Law at the University of Melbourne, told Australian ABC news.
Some measles vaccines contain hydrolysed gelatin, a diluted substance derived from pig or cow tissue. The gelatin is used to protect live viruses from temperature fluctuations, according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project at the University of Oxford.
Gelatin in vaccines has occasionally been a controversy between pious members of the Jewish and Muslim religions, which prohibit the consumption of pigs.
However, more than 100 top Islamists declared in 1995 that gelatin had been sufficiently purified for use in vaccines after discussing the issue at a seminar held by the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences in Kuwait.
The provincial public health authorities of Canada often call this seminar to explain why it is safe for pious Muslims to use measles vaccines.
"Scholars of Muslim and Jewish religions have determined that the receipt of gelatin in vaccines is permissible and does not constitute a violation of religious practice," British Columbia's Center for Disease Control says on its immunization website.
Health Canada recommends that all babies receive the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella after their first birthday. Some versions of the vaccine contain gelatin, others do not, according to the website of the Canadian government.
Measles is a highly contagious disease of the airways that can spread through the air, and through coughing and sneezing. The virus also survives up to two hours on surfaces outside the body.
Symptoms include skin rash and fever, and in rare cases it can be fatal, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
World Health Organization statistics show that cases of measles in Indonesia have dropped significantly during a multi-year effort to vaccinate more children. Civil servants confirmed 1,507 cases in the first half of this year, compared with 11,389 throughout 2017.
The government aims to achieve 95 percent immunization coverage by 2020.
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