Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Health has readied a scenario for the third dose or booster vaccine for preventing further transmission and lowering mortality among members of vulnerable groups exposed to COVID-19.

The third dose or booster vaccine will be prioritized for health workers and elderly groups, COVID-19 vaccination spokesperson at the ministry, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, stated during the webinar "Christmas and New Year Holidays: Strategies to Prevent New Variants of COVID-19" here on Tuesday.

"The first (group) to be given the booster dose is health workers, while the second is the elderly," she remarked.

Tarmizi revealed that the booster or third dose vaccine program will be implemented in January or February 2022.

After health workers and elders, the third dose of vaccine will be offered to cash assistance beneficiaries (PBI), participants of the National Health Insurance - Indonesia Health Card (JKN-KIS) program, and finally members of the public.

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However, Tarmizi stressed that the government will still prioritize covering the first and second dose inoculation to reach at least 60 to 70 percent. After the target is achieved, the third dose program can be executed.

The spokesperson explained that developed countries that had implemented the booster vaccination tend to have available vaccines. However, low- and middle-income countries are still grappling with meeting the adequate vaccine dose requirements for their population, she noted.

"To this end, the government has arranged a scenario, but we will do it if our vaccination target of the first dose and the elderly group has reached 70 to 60 percent," she expounded.

Citing data from the Health Ministry, the first dose of vaccination for the elderly only reached 44 percent, or 9.5 million people, although the elderly group is considered as being vulnerable to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health awaits an evaluation from experts on the third dose of vaccination related to its implementation.

"This is because no study had been conducted as to when we should give the booster, whether after three to six months of being inoculated," Tarmizi noted.

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Translator: Aditya R, Kenzu T
Editor: Suharto
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