News Focus

Indonesia steps up efforts to achieve herd immunity

Indonesia steps up efforts to achieve herd immunity

A vaccination drive in Aceh. (ANTARA FOTO/Irwansyah Putra/wsj.)

The Indonesian government has administered nearly 35.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine as of June 19, 2021, with 12,212,906 people receiving their second jabs and 22,873,342 others receiving their first shots of the vaccine.

The government is targeting 40 million people and giving priority to healthcare workers, public service officers, and senior citizens in the first and second phases of the national vaccination program.

Overall, it aims to vaccinate at least 181.5 million citizens, or 70 percent of the population, to create herd immunity against the virus.

To speed up vaccinations, the government is working to expand the capacity of vaccination services — offered to all citizens free of cost — with allocations from its budget as well as funding from the private sector, notably by encouraging company-funded vaccinations for employees.

The government-funded vaccination program has been implemented since January 13, 2021, while the private sector-funded vaccination program called Gotong Royong kicked off on May 18 this year.

"It (Gotong Royong) is aimed at expanding the COVID-19 vaccination coverage. The government's vaccination program and the Gotong Royong program will not use the same vaccines. Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Novavac, and Pfizer cannot be used in the Gotong Royong (vaccination) program," the Health Ministry's spokesperson for COVID-19 vaccination, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said adding that China's Sinopharm and Cansino vaccines will be provided under the Gotong Royong program.

To vaccinate the targeted 181.5 million recipients under the national program, the government will require around 426 million vaccine doses.

Hence, the Health Ministry has urged people to not be picky about the COVID-19 vaccines offered by the government, saying the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared all currently authorized and recommended vaccines as safe.

At present, Indonesia’s total COVID-19 caseload exceeds 1.9 million and the number could spike due to the presence of new, more infectious COVID-19 variants.

Therefore, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has directed that the vaccination program be accelerated, saying he is eager to see Indonesia achieve herd immunity by the end of this year or early next year.

Related news: 31 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Indonesia: minister

He has repeatedly urged vaccination providers to ramp up vaccinations to one million jabs per day. However, since the country is relying on imports of COVID-19 vaccines, this target has proved difficult to achieve.

According to President Jokowi, intensifying vaccinations for players from the financial services industry could help expedite the process of achieving herd immunity in the sector by August, 2021.

He is also optimistic about Jakarta and Bogor district in West Java achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 by August, 2021.

The President has said that he strongly believes that the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations would ascertain the nation’s success in handling the pandemic.

The pace of vaccinations will have to be faster in regions such as Jakarta, which have a large population and high public mobility and interaction, he said.

He outlined a daily target of 100 thousand COVID-19 jabs in Jakarta so as to inoculate 7.5 million residents by the end of August.

"Public interaction in Jakarta is high and so is public mobility. Hence, the pace of vaccinations is key," he remarked.

Widodo also urged all stakeholders in the Indonesian capital to work together to achieve the vaccination target.

"This is an ambitious target, but we have to achieve it to build herd immunity," he stressed.

President Jokowi also spoke with Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan on handling the vaccination program and the availability of vaccines.

Bali, which is among the provinces with the highest vaccination coverage, is already on the brink of attaining herd immunity, based on the vaccination participation level. The local health authorities in Bali have administered over 2.2 million vaccine doses so far.

Related news: Accelerate vaccination for residents with high mobility: President

"We have set the minimum target of three million Balinese residents to receive vaccine shots to reach the 70-percent herd immunity of its population," the task force’s head of behavior change, Sonny Harmadi, said.

Public compliance with wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance has worked favorably for Bali, he noted.

The compliance levels in all districts in Bali have reached over 93 percent, he said.

In the meantime, the World Health Organization (WHO) has commended President Widodo's commitment to expediting and optimizing the national vaccination program as part of endeavors to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Indonesia is one of the countries with successful vaccination programs," WHO's immunization officer for Indonesia, Olivi Silalahi, said recently.

As a country that has not been able to produce vaccine on its own, Indonesia is among the countries to have made progress in implementing COVID-19 vaccination. The challenge is to reach vulnerable groups, she said.

Despite this success, Indonesia is facing several challenges, including those related to the dissemination of information about the implementation of the vaccination program.

Information about vaccine side-effects have made some sections of the public wary of participating in the program.

"For this reason, we can inform them how the vaccine works and how the vaccine is effective to stem infection and prevent transmission to reduce the number of patients," Prof. Pratiwi Pudjilestari Sudarmono, a clinical microbiologist with the University of Indonesia (UI), advised.

The success of the national vaccination program will depend on the availability and distribution of vaccines to cover more people, especially to achieve the target of one million vaccinations per day, Sudarmono said.

Related news: Over 12.21 million Indonesians fully vaccinated against COVID-19

 

 

Comments