By Agenzia Fides

Jan 16 2021

JAKARTA – Christians in Indonesia support the national Covid-19 vaccination campaign. After the first injection of the vaccine organized live on TV for the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, the first person in the country to be vaccinated, the national vaccination campaign has started and Christians have made a contribution to raising awareness so that it is as widespread as possible.

The president also pointed out that the Chinese-made Sinovac anti-Covid-19 vaccine has received permission to be used by the National Agency of Drug and Food Control and is also certified “halal” by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Muslim body. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia has publicly approved the Covid-19 vaccination.

Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo, Executive Secretary of the Interreligious Commission of Catholic Bishops, was the first Catholic representative to receive, along with public officials and civilian leaders, the first dose of the vaccine. Speaking with Fides, Fr. Wibowo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Jakarta, explains that “protecting health is a good path to prosperity. My participation in the first round of public vaccinations in the State Palace aims to promote health in society”.

“Indonesian Bishops support vaccination as a fundamental part of the nation’s fight to safeguard public health. If all Indonesian citizens are healthy, it means that the nation carries out its mission to ensure national prosperity”, says the priest. “I really hope that this vaccine generates a good result for the Indonesian people.

I thank the Indonesian administration for their commitment”, he added, recalling that it remains everyone’s responsibility to follow the anti-virus protocols at all times. The Bishops’ Conference has publicly distributed this notice to all the dioceses, inviting them to be an active part in this mobilization campaign.

As Fides learned, the the Indonesian Association of Churches, an ecumenical body, has asked the Indonesian churches to support the implementation of vaccination. “Responding to efforts to address Covid-19 through the government’s procurement of vaccines and vaccination plans, the Association of Churches in Indonesia appeals to affiliated Churches to provide optimal support for its implementation”, writes the leader of the Association, Protestant Pastor Gomar Gultom, in a statement sent to Fides.

Christian Churches have also called on the government to improve the information process on the virus and the vaccination campaign, especially for communities in remote areas, through various media. The Christian communities in Indonesia can play a valuable role in this situation by coordinating with the government: “A public education plan on vaccines, their implementation and the effectiveness of vaccination is envisaged. All Churches are recommended to coordinate with the responsible technical bodies in their respective areas”, the note reads.

“I really appreciate the government’s efforts to overcome this pandemic. I have waited a long time for this vaccine to arrive, especially for healthcare professionals like me. With the vaccine we feel safer, so that we can better serve the community”, says Dr Suka Adyana, a surgeon in Denpasar on the island of Bali. Lusy Noviani, a Catholic pharmacist at Atma Jaya Catholic hospital, has also received the anti-Covid-19 dose in the first national vaccination. (ES-MH) (Agenzia Fides, 14/1/2021)