Mass vaccinations begin


First in line: Jokowi getting his shot in the arm at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta. — Reuters

PRESIDENT Joko Widodo received the first shot of a Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine after Indonesia approved it for emergency use and began efforts to vaccine millions of people in the world’s fourth most populated country.

After Joko, top military, police and medical officials were vaccinated, as well as the secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the clerical body that last week ruled the vaccine was halal and could be taken by Muslims.

Others such as a healthcare worker, businesspeople and a social media influencer also received the shots to encourage people to get the vaccine when it is available to them.“We need to do the vaccination to stop the chain spread of Covid-19 and give health protection to us and to all Indonesian people.

“It will also help accelerate economic improvement, ” Joko said.

“This vaccine is the instrument we can use to protect us. But more importantly, the vaccine is the instrument to protect our family, our neighbour, Indonesian people and human civilisation, ” Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said yesterday.

“This vaccine is given to achieve herd immunity.

“All 70% of the world’s people must be vaccinated for that to be achieved. The participation of all Indonesians will greatly determine the success of this programme, ” he said.

Conditional use of the Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine is scheduled to be rolled out in the coming months with healthcare workers, civil servants and other at-risk populations prioritised. It will be free for all Indonesian citizens.

For Indonesia to vaccinate two-thirds of its population, 181.5 million people, Sadikin said the two-shot vaccine would require almost 427 million doses, including the estimate that 15% may be wasted.

Distribution will not be easy in the vast archipelago where transportation and infrastructure are limited in places.

Health officials have cited concerns about keeping the vaccine refrigerated at the required 2°C-7°C to maintain its safety and effectiveness. — AP

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