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Jakarta Post

Parents in Papua fear disabilities, illnesses from vaccines, refuse to have children immunized

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, September 17, 2018   /   04:13 pm
Parents in Papua fear disabilities, illnesses from vaccines, refuse to have children immunized A student embraces her teacher while receiving a diphtheria vaccination during the final round of the outbreak response immunization (ORI) program in Malang, East Java, on July 24. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

The Karubaga community health center in Tolikara regency, Papua, has said many parents in the region have opposed the administration of measles-rubella (MR) and polio vaccinations for their children over fears the vaccines will cause disabilities or other illnesses.

“We can say about 40 percent of parents refused to allow their children to get vaccinated,” said Herdika Pareang of the Karubaga community health center on Sunday, as quoted by Antara.

When the health officers asked the students about their reasons for refusing to be vaccinated, they said their parents were concerned about disabilities or other illnesses being caused by the vaccine, Herdika added.

Tolikara Health Agency's head of disease prevention and control Constan Jikwa said that his team had continued to disseminate information about the vaccines, including in Karubaga.

Constan said the parents' opposition might be caused by information they had heard about a child with epilepsy in another district who became disabled after receiving the vaccination.

“The [limited] understanding of parents and teachers in light of past events concerning a vaccine administered to a child with epilepsy in Kurulu district has caused many parents [in Karubaga] to refuse [the vaccinations],” said Constan.

The deputy principal of YPPGI Karubaga elementary school in Tolikara, Kristian Adi, said that 60 percent of students at the school had received the MR and polio vaccinations.

Many parents in several predominantly Muslim regions have reportedly refused to take part in the program, despite an edict from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) last month that the MR vaccine was mubah (permitted for Muslims) even though it contains porcine-derived gelatin. The council has permitted Muslims to receive the vaccine until a halal alternative is made. The Health Ministry recorded that the nation’s average vaccine coverage rate was only 47.37 percent. (sau/dmr)