Indonesia starts COVID-19 vaccination drive with President Widodo
(Sourced from PTI)
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday received the first shot of a China-made COVID-19 vaccine after Indonesia approved it for emergency use and began efforts to vaccinate millions of citizens. After Widodo, top military, police, medical officials and the secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the clerical body that last week ruled the vaccine was halal and could be taken by Muslims, were vaccinated.
"This vaccine is the instrument we can use to protect our family, neighbor, the human civilization," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said. "This vaccine is being given to achieve herd immunity. Participation of all Indonesians will greatly determine the success of this program," he added.
The Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccine is scheduled to roll out in the coming months with healthcare workers and other at-risk people prioritized first and will be free for all citizens. For Indonesia to vaccinate two-thirds of its population, 181.5 million people, to reach herd immunity, Sadikin said the two-shot vaccine would require almost 427 million doses, including the estimate that 15% may be wasted.
The distribution will not be easy in the vast archipelago where transportation and infrastructure are inadequate in places. Health officials have cited concerns about keeping the vaccine refrigerated at the required 36-46 degree Fahrenheit temperature to maintain its effectiveness. "We know that the cold-chain distribution is not complete. This is the obstacle," Sadikin said on Tuesday.
Indonesia received its first shipment of Sinovac vaccines on December 6. Authorities began distribution to key locations while awaiting emergency use authorization. It was cleared for emergency use based on clinical trial and after the Ulema Council declared it halal. This is the first large-scale use of the Sinovac vaccine outside of China. Indonesia has recorded more than 846,000 cases, including over 24,600 deaths.