Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Health Ministry has announced that COVID-19 vaccines would remain free of charge for two vulnerable groups starting from January 1, 2024.

The first vulnerable group comprises elderly people who have never received the first injection of COVID-19 vaccine, the ministry's Disease Control and Prevention Director General Maxi Rein Rondonuwu stated.

The second vulnerable group is of elderly people who have just received the first COVID-19 jab, Rondonuwu noted in a statement that ANTARA received from his ministry in Jakarta on Sunday (December 31).

Elderly people with comorbidities, adults with comorbidities, and frontline medical workers also belong to vulnerable groups that will receive free COVID-19 vaccines, he remarked.

The free COVID-19 vaccination program is also provided for pregnant women, those in the age bracket of 12 years or above, and those belonging to other age groups who are immunocompromised.

The residents who have moderately- or highly-weakened immune systems are also eligible for the free COVID-19 vaccines, he remarked, adding that the policy is stipulated in Health Ministerial Regulation No.HK.01.07/MENKES/2193/2023 on the COVID-19 Immunization Program.

"The COVID-19 immunization has become a routine program across Indonesia starting from January 1, 2024," he remarked.

Those not meeting any criteria of vulnerable groups are required to pay for receiving the COVID-19 jabs, he noted.

ANTARA reported earlier that active COVID-19 cases have again been detected in Indonesia.

The Jakarta Health Office has also warned Jakartans to stay alert and implement health protocols, as the metropolitan city's number of active COVID-19 cases experienced an upward trend.

As of December 28, 2023, the Jakarta Health Office had recorded 517 active COVID-19 cases, and the number of coronavirus cases is expected to move upward until mid-January of 2024.

Of the figure, some 300 residents, who tested positive for COVID-19, are undergoing self-isolation owing to mild symptoms of the disease, while 217 others are hospitalized.

The coronavirus outbreak initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 and then also hit various parts of the world, including countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Indonesian Government announced the country's first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

Since then, the central and regional governments have made persistent efforts to flatten the coronavirus curve by imposing healthcare protocols and social restrictions.

After fighting against the coronavirus for more than three years, on June 21, 2023, President Joko Widodo officially declared the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia.

Since then, Indonesia entered the endemic stage, while the country's number of daily COVID-19 cases on the day President Widodo declared the end of the pandemic was close to zero.

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Translator: Andi F, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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