Indonesia must do more to promote childhood immunization, say parents

In the last quarter of 2022, when the country is still facing risks from the Covid-19 pandemic and flu season, the Indonesian government is working hard to raise the child immunization rate, which is not up to the desired level, according to UNICEF and WHO. There are millions of children who have not received their shots, and vulnerable to diseases which threaten their growth and development. Therefore, it is an urgent task to immunize all children as quickly as possible.

Childhood immunization. Photo credit: UNICEF

The National Child Immunization Month (BIAN) program, although showing promise in the East Java Province, is still lacking in Sidoarjo Regency, one of the regions in East Java Province. According to Aditya Nindyatman, member of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) of Sidoarjo Regency, child immunization in 2020 decreased drastically to 36 percent when compared to 2019 at 68 percent. 

A child being immunized. Photo credit: UNICEF

In 2022, Nindyatman said the rate has rose to the 50 percent range. Although there was improvement, there was also much for the government to do. He said officials have to convince more parents to bring their children in for immunization. As it is, parents have many excuses for not doing so: too busy working, religious reasons, don’t know immunization dates.

East Java Provincial Government is committed to childhood immunization. Photo credit: East Java Provincial Government

Sujarwo, a father of four from a poor family in Sidoarjo, told Maritime Fairtrade immunization is not a priority because he and his wife are working shifts in a factory and has no time to bring their children to the hospital. He also said the immunization schedule did not suit their working hours. None of his children have been fully immunized.

Immunization of children in Sidoarjo. Photo credit: Sidoarjo Regency Government

Ahmad Yasin, who runs an Islamic boarding school, chose not to immunize his child for religious reasons. However, Yasin was reluctant to explain further regarding the reason. He only said his religion does not allow foreign objects to be injected into the body.

On the other hand, Tia Rahma, a young mother with one child, said she made sure to always bring her child for all necessary immunizations because she believed in scientific and medical advancement. But she disapproved of the way the government is rolling out the immunization.

Beside having good nutrition, a healthy child must be fully immunized. Photo credit: UNICEF

“The government’s immunization schedule is often carried out on weekdays. Of course, it is very difficult for children whose parents have to work. My husband and me could not afford to miss work because we need the money but we made sure to ask our retired parents to bring our child for the shots. We are lucky but what about other parents? The government has to make it convenient for working parents,” said Tia.

Khofifah Indar Parawansa (left), governor of East Java. Photo credit: East Java Provincial Government

Khofifah Indar Parawansa, governor of East Java, told Maritime Fairtrade in an official statement her government is taking in all feedback and stressed that it is important for all parents to ensure their children are well-protected from diseases by being fully immunized.

Top photo credit: iStock/ PeopleImages. Stock photo of a child being immunized.

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