May the vaccination of PWNU preachers raise the public's confidence to use the vaccine, which is secure and halal
Surabaya, East Java (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is targeting to obtain 100 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine to help the country contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has informed.

"(We) are targeting to receive more than 100 million doses," he said while observing the vaccination of hundreds of preachers at the Office of East Java Provincial Executive Board of the Islamic Organization Nahdlatul Ulama (PWNU) in Surabaya on Tuesday.

"May the vaccination of PWNU preachers raise the public's confidence to use the vaccine, which is secure and halal,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, deputy chief of the PWNU Religious Council (syuriah), KH Anwar Iskandar, said vaccination is compulsory as protecting the safety of humans is a priority right now.

He said he believes that the AstraZeneca vaccine is halal and secure, bearing in mind that many Middle Eastern countries have also declared it as such.

"Based on the decision made by competent institution LBM (Batsul Masai), AstraZeneca is pure and halal,” he added.

The Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) had earlier allowed the use of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by SK Bioscience of South Korea after conducting a series of studies and receiving inputs from authorities and experts with regard to its safety.

MUI chief for the fatwa section, Asrorun Niam Sholeh, gave five reasons for the council's decision to allow the use of AstraZeneca vaccines. First, Indonesia is in a state of urgency. Second, there is confirmation from experts about the danger of fatalities unless vaccination is conducted. Third, the supply of pure and halal COVID-19 vaccines is not enough to build herd immunity.

Fourth, the government has provided a security guarantee on the use of the vaccines. Fifth, the government does not have the freedom to choose vaccines due to limited supplies, he explained.

Health Minister Sadikin said last Friday that the government will begin distributing AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines from this week to support the national vaccination program.

The government had suspended the distribution of AstraZeneca's vaccines following a report on their side-effects.

With the results of a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and the European drugs authority showing that the vaccine is safe for use, the government has now decided to restart distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccines.

The Health Ministry, the Drug and Food Control Agency (BPOM), and the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) will soon issue a technical guidance on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The MHRA, which had announced a review of several thromboembolic events in people who received AstraZeneca jabs in the United Kingdom, has said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks and has recommended the use of the vaccine.

Indonesia received 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX facility, the global initiative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, on March 8 this year.

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Translator: Fiqih Arfani/Suharto
Editor: Sri Haryati
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