ID criteria slowing vaccine access, say indigenous communities

ID criteria slowing vaccine access, say indigenous communities

Illustration - Dayak indigenous community in Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan. (ANTARA PHOTO/Bayu Pratama S/rwa)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The requirement of a national identification number for receiving COVID-19 vaccines is impeding vaccinations among indigenous communities residing in the interiors of the country or on remote islands, an organization representing the communities has said.

"For the indigenous community, extra effort is needed for them to apply for ID number even in normal times. During the pandemic, applying for ID number has become more difficult than ever," secretary general of the Alliance for Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN), Rukka Sombolinggi, said in a written statement received in Jakarta on Friday.

As of July 21, 2021, only 468,963 out of the estimated 40-70 million members of indigenous communities have registered for vaccinations, and just 20 thousand have received the first vaccine dose, she informed.

"Limitations of vaccination access and lack of personal ID number are the main cause of low vaccination registration rate (among indigenous communities)," she said.

Given their isolated and remote locations, indigenous communities remained protected during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic due to their self-subsisting nature and minimal interaction with outsiders, Sombolinggi pointed out.

But, with the appearance of more transmissible COVID-19 virus variants, positive cases have been recorded among the indigenous communities, she said.

Health Ministry's COVID-19 vaccination spokesperson Siti Nadia Tarmizi said her staff has received grievances from indigenous communities concerning the ID criteria, and follow-up actions are under consideration.

"Follow-up actions are currently under consideration between the Home Affairs Ministry and the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan)," she informed.

Tarmizi said the requirement for ID numbers is necessary for ensuring vaccine distribution accountability and controlling the fluctuating vaccine supply.

"Current vaccine distribution depends on population records of a province, and identity of the vaccine recipients should also be reported (to the government)," she explained.

According to health science expert at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Indonesia (FKUI), Prof. Tjandra Yoga Aditama, most countries of the world have applied ID card requirements for vaccine recipients.

"From what I know, in several countries, vaccine recipients should show their ID card before receiving the vaccine. But it is clear when more residents vaccinated, the better," Prof. Aditama stated.

ID numbers are mandated under Article 6 Paragraph 3 of the Health Ministry Regulation No. 10/2021 on vaccination implementation in a pandemic situation, he pointed out.

Besides ID numbers, the regulation stipulates the vaccination report should also include vaccine quantity, recipient name, and address information, he added.

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