The Jakarta Post
East Kalimantan's Balikpapan administration is to vaccinate 172,000 children between the ages of 9 months and 15 years for measles and rubella starting Aug.1.
“We will hold the mass immunization simultaneously at puskesmas [community health centers] and through immunization services at other facilities,” Balikpapan assistant secretary Dyah Muryani said on Sunday.
Balikpapan will receive assistance from UNICEF in carrying out its measles-rubella (MR) vaccination program. “The MR vaccines will be provided free of charge for all children,” said Dyah.
She said the vaccine would prevent children from contracting measles and rubella, two highly contagious viral infections. Rubella caused only a mild fever and skin rash, but if pregnant women were infected, the disease can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects in the fetus.
“All women who are planning their pregnancy should consult a doctor to obtain the rubella vaccination,” said Dyah.
Dyah said Balikpapan would be welcoming President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who would launch the MR vaccination program at the Pesantren Hidayatullah, an Islamic boarding school.
The school is located in Gunung Tembak, Lamaru, around 30 kilometers north Balikpapan.
“We chose Pesantren Hidayatullah to reassure the public that the vaccine is halal. This is because many people doubt whether vaccines are halal, so they refuse to have their children vaccinated,” said Dyah.
The second stage of the MR vaccination program plans to target 32 million children in 28 provinces in August and September. During the first stage of the program last year, 35 million children across Java received the MR vaccine. (ebf)