Jakarta (ANTARA) - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin highlighted the need to ensure the availability of meningitis vaccines in Indonesia, especially for residents seeking to conduct pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

"We need to prepare meningitis vaccines according to our needs," Amin stated after attending the commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the Indonesian Muslims Workers' Union Confederation (K-Sarbumusi) in Sidoarjo, East Java, on Friday.

The availability of meningitis vaccine to meet the country's needs should be rechecked, he emphasized while making assurance that he will coordinate with relevant authorities regarding the vaccine availability.

"It must be clear whether we still have the obligation (to procure the vaccine) because if we have no such obligation, then it would be fine. However, if we are required to do so, then we must commit to it. I believe we will discuss this soon," the vice president noted.

He reiterated the government's commitment to facilitating residents to perform their religious practices, such as conducting their umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, by ensuring the availability of meningitis vaccine doses.

"We must not let pilgrims' (plans be) impeded by the meningitis vaccine availability issues. We will check again what factors are causing the issue," Amin remarked.

Earlier, the Muslims' Association of Hajj and Umrah Organisers (Amphuri) stated that Indonesian umrah pilgrims in several regions had complained of difficulties in getting the meningitis vaccine, which is made mandatory by the Saudi authority for pilgrimage.

In response to the complaint, the Health Ministry's Head of Communication and Public Services Bureau Siti Nadia Tarmizi clarified that the discrepancy between the meningitis vaccine availability and the surge in the number of umrah pilgrims following the Saudi authority's decision to reopen the border for international pilgrims was due to the new vaccine doses still being under the shipping process.

She remarked that some meningitis vaccine producers had just restarted their production following the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown policies.

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Translator: Desca Lidya N, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Sri Haryati
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