Bangsamoro leaders back vaccine rollout
ILIGAN CITY—The Islamic religious authority in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has backed the government’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, but said health authorities would have the final say on who will qualify for inoculation.
In a religious guideline issued by mufti (Islamic jurist) Abuhuraira Udasan, the region’s Darul Ifta, said “vaccine for healing and preventive measure, in general, is lawful (halal).” The Darul Ifta promulgates opinions on issues that have implication on the practice of Islam.
Udasan, however, defers to health authorities on the question of whether it is appropriate to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Preventing virus spread
“On the issue of the [COVID-19] vaccine, it is the health authority who has the final decision, whether it is safe to get vaccinated or not,” Udasan’s edict read.
In Zamboanga City, Ustadz Shayk Alzid Lim of the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula, noted that many Muslims in the region have second thoughts about the vaccination drive, mostly due to doubts about whether particular brands were certified halal.
Despite the Muslim residents’ reservations, Lim said they still encouraged them to avail of the vaccines “to help prevent the spread of the virus.”
“Generally, we welcome the vaccines as long as these are halal,” he said.
At least 35 percent of Zamboanga City’s close to 900,000 residents are Muslims.
Earlier, the BARMM Health Minister Amirel Usman assured Muslim front-liners that CoronaVac, the vaccine manufactured by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech, had been certified by an Indonesian halal-certifying body.
“You have nothing to worry. Our Sinovac vials are certified halal (allowed by Islam),” Usman said.
Health workers will be prioritized in the vaccination drive due to limited supply, as the bulk of vaccine deliveries intended for the country’s general population is still expected later this year.
Apart from the halal certification sought by Muslim front-liners, other health workers continue to have trust issues with the vaccination program.
At Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), a major COVID-19 referral facility, only 907 of its 1,600 personnel have registered for vaccination, said Dr. Shadrina Tahil Sarapudin, the hospital’s spokesperson.
Dr. Afdal Kunting, ZCMC chief, admitted that many of their employees were hesitant to take the vaccines.
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