Indonesia to vaccinate population starting next week

Indonesia is set to begin next week its mass vaccination program, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first jab, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

According to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the mass immunization program will begin on January 13 in Jakarta, to be followed by other regions on January 14 and 15, having secured supply orders from China’s vaccine manufacturer Sinovac Biotech.

Indonesia signed a deal for the purchase of 125.5 million doses of the CoronaVac shot, of which three million doses were officially in place.

In August last year, Indonesia-based PT Bio Farma also signed an agreement with Sinovac to produce doses locally.

Among the first batch of individuals to receive the vaccine are 1.3 million front-liners. They will be followed by regional governors in order to “generate confidence in the community.”

Indonesia, which is the most populous country in Southeast Asia, also has the highest number of confirmed cases.

As of press time, the country’s average daily confirmed infections were at 7,445 while the death toll was at 198. This brought the total tally to 779,549 and 23,109, respectively.

A survey conducted by the World Health Organization in August last year reported that the lingering pandemic further exacerbated hesitancy of receiving a vaccine in Indonesia, with 27 percent of the respondents expressing concern with taking the jab.

Among the reasons cover safety and efficacy as well as religious beliefs, while some were concerned over the possible use of pork products in the jabs.

Muslims make up 87 percent of Indonesia’s 273 million people, and the consumption of pork is considered forbidden.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority said it was yet to approve the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Al Jazeera, although it has previously said it hoped emergency use authorization would be granted once interim data from Sinova’s clinical trials in Indonesia, Brazil, and Turkey have been studied.

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