Jakarta (ANTARA) - Ten provinces in the country experienced delays in diphtheria vaccination for children due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Health Ministry's official has revealed.

The provinces with the lowest diphtheria vaccination coverage are Aceh, West Papua, Papua, West Sumatra, Jakarta, Riau, North Kalimantan, West Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, and West Kalimantan, head of communication and public services bureau, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said here, Monday (February 27).

According to Tarmizi, delays in vaccinations had resulted in the emergence of diphtheria cases in Garut, West Java. The local government has set the status of an extraordinary event (KLB) after several residents were confirmed to have diphtheria.

To this end, the ministry started implementing the diphtheria Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) for prevention efforts in Garut on Monday in eight villages in Pangatikan sub-district, which is the working area of the Cimaragas community health center (puskesmas), she said.

"We have completed the data collection for targeted residents through micro-planning in all villages. The number of ORI beneficiaries will then be adjusted to the results of the puskesmas data collection," Tarmizi said.

Based on the recommendation of the expert committee, ORI will be implemented in one sub-district, namely Pangatikan.

The expansion of the ORI area will take into account the results of epidemiological investigations, she said.

She also encourages efforts to control and strengthen diphtheria surveillance to prevent spikes in cases in the community.

"We conduct early detection of suspected diphtheria cases through an early alert and response system, monitor the occurrence of additional cases in the outbreak area, and conduct refresher training regarding diphtheria surveillance and prevention for affected provinces and districts/cities," she stated.

In addition, the Ministry of Health continues to increase the coverage of complete routine immunization for the target group of children in Indonesia.

Earlier, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin assessed that the outbreak of diphtheria in Garut was triggered by delays in immunization during the three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Diphtheria (cases reported) in Garut are indeed due to the lack of vaccinations because of the COVID-19 pandemic that hampered people's activity," he noted.

He revealed that the ministry had also mapped out several regions in Indonesia that recorded delays in vaccination coverage in a bid to expedite efforts to ensure immediate intervention.

Meanwhile, the Garut district government has reported two cases of diphtheria in residents of Sukahurip village, Pangatikan sub-district. Several others were included in the suspected category.

This incident prompted the Garut government to declare an outbreak status for diphtheria through District Head Decree Number for the period from February to November 2023.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Resinta S
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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