Health Ministry urged to hasten vaccine distribution across Indonesia

Health Ministry urged to hasten vaccine distribution across Indonesia

SOEs Minister Erick Thohir (center) interacts with Garuda Indonesia president director Irfan Setiaputra (left), Bio Farma director Honesti Basyir (second left), Health Ministry's pharmaceutical production and distribution director, Agusdini (third left), head of customs and excise office at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Finari Manan (second right), and managing director of Angkasa Pura II, Muhammad Awaluddin (right). (ANTARA FOTO/Dhemas Reviyanto/wsj/my)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Health Ministry has been urged to hasten the distribution of vaccines across Indonesia in view of the recent spike in the country's COVID-19 death toll.

"We have conducted free vaccination drives several times, in coordination with some institutions. The Health Ministry needs to move fast. (We are) in a critical condition. The key is to hasten vaccine distribution to many regions," Hamdan Zoelva, chairman of Muslim group Syarikat Islam, said in Jakarta on Thursday.

In the past few days, Indonesia has broken the record to become one of the countries with high COVID-19 deaths, he pointed out.

According to information on the website, 1,598 people died of COVID-19 in Indonesia on August 3, 2021. The figure was higher than the United States, which has recorded the highest number of cases in the world. While the US recorded 516 deaths, 561 people died in India the same day.

Voicing his concern, Zoelva said several regions in COVID-19 red zones in Indonesia have not received their vaccine allocation, particularly Java and Madura.

"Later on, distribution to outside Java and Bali regions needs to be carried out immediately. Herd immunity as aimed by President Jokowi (Joko Widodo) will only happen when it (it is) done simultaneously and thoroughly," he said.

Alifudin, a member of Committee IX of the House of Representatives, also urged the Health Ministry to address the unavailability of vaccine stocks in some regions without delay.

He said he had received complaints and reports from some regions about the lack of vaccine stocks.

"Do not just (focus) in Java Island, or let the central government hoard ample stock. The regions also need to do vaccination," Alifudin stressed.

Related news: Health Ministry ensures vaccine stocks to suffice for regional demand

According to Bhima Yudhistira from the Center of Economic and Law Studies, only 7.7 percent of the Indonesian population has been vaccinated. In order to reach herd immunity, at least 185 million people need to be vaccinated, he added.

Yudhistira said vaccine distribution is a serious issue, which can only be addressed by the Health Ministry.

"President already said that there was still so many imported vaccines, and the people have strong desire to be vaccinated. (You can) see from the gathering of people who want to be vaccinated in some places," he remarked.

He warned that economic growth would be stunted if, due to lack of vaccine stocks, vaccination programs have to be postponed in some regions.

Data from the Health Ministry has shown that the majority of Indonesia's COVID-19 patients who succumbed to the infection had either not been vaccinated or had been disinclined to it.

"According to data from the Health Ministry, 90 percent of COVID-19 patients (in Indonesia) died because they did not want or had not received a vaccine," State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said in a written statement on Wednesday (July 7, 2021).

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that 99.5 percent of people who died of COVID-19 in the past six months were not inoculated.

At a press conference at the White House in the beginning of July this year, Dr. Rochelle Walensky from CDC had said that every death caused by COVID-19 could have been avoided with vaccination.

Related news: President orders immediate utilization of remaining vaccine stocks