Indonesia mass vaccination begins; younger generation first in line

Indonesia began with its mass vaccination program on Wednesday which focused on the younger working-age population and not the elderly.

According to reports, Indonesian President Joko Widodo was one of the first to receive the two-dose vaccine manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinovac Biotech Ltd., followed by top military, police, medical officials, and the Indonesian Ulema Council secretary.

The program ran contrary to other nations’ plans to vaccinate the elderly, with Indonesia highlighting that the jabs should be first injected to those who were likely to contract and spread it.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin was quoted as saying in a report by the Washington Post that the rollout was “focusing on people who have to meet lots of people as part of their work” such as motorbike taxi, police, military.

“So, I don’t want people to think this is about just the economy. This is about protecting people,” he added.

It can be learned that Indonesia had signed a deal with Sinovac for the purchase of 125.5 million doses of its vaccine called CoronaVac shot as well as the local production of the vaccine through an Indonesia-based pharmaceutical firm.

For his part, Widodo said that the vaccination program had to be done “to stop the chain spread of COVID-19 and give health protection to us and the safety to all Indonesian people.”

“It will also help accelerate economic improvement,” he added.

Indonesia ruled the CoronaVac halal which means that it was acceptable for use by the Muslim community. In Indonesia, Muslims make up 87 percent of its 273 million people.

On Wednesday, Sadikin said that the vaccine was an instrument “we can use to protect us.”

“But more importantly, the vaccine is the instrument to protect our family, our neighbor, Indonesian people, and human civilization.”

He underscored that Indonesia’s vaccination program was key to worldwide efforts to protect enough people so that the global community reaches herd immunity.

Indonesia has the highest number of confirmed cases in Southeast Asia, with as many as 858,000 infections in total and more than 24,900 deaths.

Photo by Carlos Reusser/Flickr