The government exists because of the people, and its main task is serving the people through various programs that can lead them to prosper and protect them from such harmful threats as COVID-19
Bogor, W Java (ANTARA) - The Papua administration is striving to make sure that all of its athletes joining this year's PON National and National Para Games (Peparnas) are vaccinated prior to the convening of the two prestigious multi-sport events.

Early this month, the Indonesian National Sports Committee (KONI), Papua chapter, disclosed that it had completed the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination of athletes.

The second phase of the vaccination of athletes is currently underway in Jayapura and training centers, according to the medical coordinator of KONI, Papua chapter, Dr. Billy Heumese.

The PON National Games will be held in Jayapura city and the districts of Jayapura, Mimika, and Merauke this year from October 2 to October 15, while Peparnas will be held from November 2 to November 15.

At least 6,400 athletes and 3,500 officials from 34 provinces across Indonesia are expected to participate in Papua's PON National Games, which will feature 37 events.

Meanwhile, 1,935 athletes and 740 officials will take part in the National Para Games in Jayapura city and Jayapura district, which will feature 12 events.

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President Joko Widodo has urged the concerned agencies to inoculate all athletes participating in the PON National Games and National Para Games to ensure their and officials' safety.

The head of state has also instructed that local residents living near the venues of the sporting events and athletes' villages be vaccinated, according to Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali.

However, Papuan authorities are facing challenges in their endeavors to implement President Joko Widodo's instructions due to misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccine resistance among the public.

A recent incident in Kwamki Narama sub-district, Mimika district has shed light on the misinformation and public reluctance surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

On August 2, 2021, private television channel TV One released video footage on its official YouTube channel --, which has since gone viral -- showing several priests and congregants at a local church in Kwamki Narama sub-district expressing their disbelief in COVID-19 and burning face masks.

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The Papua COVID-19 task force said it is aware of such challenges.

Therefore, it has urged authorities and communities across the province to counter misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations, saying it has made many residents reluctant to get vaccinated.

Hoaxes and scams related to COVID-19 vaccinations have even "haunted" several members of communities, making them doubt the necessity for vaccination, the task force's head, Welliam R.Manderi, said on Tuesday.

To counter the spread of COVID-19 vaccine-related scams, public awareness campaigns on the safety and importance of vaccinations for breaking the chain of coronavirus transmission need to be intensified, he advised.

"We must massively conduct public awareness campaigns and keep providing the public with accurate and reliable sources of information on the benefits of joining the COVID-19 vaccination drives," Manderi said.

Papua COVID-19 task force personnel have not tired of informing locals about the importance of vaccinations for building herd immunity in the province.

Local residents living near the venues for this year's PON National Games and athletes' villages must get vaccinated prior to the convening of Indonesia's prestigious multi-sport events in October, he added.

West Papua is also facing vaccine resistance amid a resurgence in infections.

To deal with the problem, the West Papua administration has asked indigenous Papuans and non-native Papuans residing in the province to get vaccinated and pay no heed to misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

"There are still individuals in local communities who believe that COVID-19 has been created to destroy certain ethnicities. This is absolutely not true at all," West Papua Deputy Governor Muhamad Lakotani said.

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Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a visit to Borasi Field in Manokwari district on July 19, 2021, Lakatoni had said he had tried persuading those resisting vaccination.

He said he had received both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. "I have fully been vaccinated, and I am well until now," he added.

The government's vaccination program is truly aimed at creating herd immunity in communities across Indonesia, he remarked.

The government has no intention of allowing citizens come to harm, he said. Instead, it is striving to protect all Indonesians through such healthcare services as the vaccination program, he pointed out.

"The government exists because of the people, and its main task is serving the people through various programs that can lead them to prosper and protect them from such harmful threats as COVID-19," he added.

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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