Thursday, March 11, 2021



Jakarta, 12/3/2021 (ANTARA) - The Joko Widodo Administration has set a very ambitious target of completing the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program within one year.


The government is aiming to vaccinate around 182 million Indonesians, or around 70 percent of the country's population of 271 million. This means that about one million people will need to be vaccinated daily to achieve the one-year target.


This would require the Health Ministry to mobilize all resources and synergize as well as establish cooperation with several parties to support the implementation of the vaccination program.


Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has approached the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) and National Police (Polri) to fast-track the implementation of COVID-19 vaccinations and intensify contact tracing.


"This necessitates synergy with various parties since the Ministry of Health cannot do it alone," he said.


The TNI and Polri have several healthcare workers who can be empowered to administer vaccines. "We invite all TNI (members) to function as vaccinators, as what is required now is people that can inject vaccines," he pointed out.


However, the current requirement is for locations for the vaccination program, and a drive-through vaccination service could be one solution, he remarked.


The Health Ministry had earlier collaborated with Halodoc and Gojek for the implementation of vaccinations, particularly to offer COVID-19 Vaccination Service Posts through a drive-through mechanism.


But, it is the limited number of vaccines that has posed the main challenge to the vaccination process. The issue has become a hot topic worldwide and several countries have yet to commence vaccinations.


President Joko Widodo has earlier said that Indonesia has been lucky enough to receive vaccine supplies at a relatively early stage thanks to the governments decision to move quickly to obtain supply commitments from vaccine producers overseas, particularly from China's Sinovac Biotech.


Sinovac has supplied 38 millions of doses of its vaccine to Indonesia in stages since December, 2020. The Indonesian government launched its mass vaccination program on January 13, 2021.


The latest shipment, or the fifth batch of Sinovac's vaccines, arrived early in March this year, according to Health Minister Dante Saksono.


"Alhamdulillah (thank God), today we got 10 million (doses of the) bulk vaccine. This bulk vaccine is raw material that Bio Farma will turn into (ready-to-use) vaccines," he said at an online press briefing.


The first and second batches from Sinovac comprised 1.2 million and 1.8 million doses of ready-to-use vaccines, respectively, while the third and fourth batches comprised 15 million and 10 million doses of semi-finished vaccines, respectively.


Indonesia's state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma has secured a certificate of good drug production from the Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM) to process the bulk Sinovac vaccines into finished vaccines.


Indonesia has ordered COVID-19 vaccines from several sources: 125 million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd; 100 million doses from US-Canada's Novavax; 100 million doses from UKs AstraZeneca; 100 million doses from Germany-US' Pfizer; and, 16-100 million doses of free vaccines from the WHO-led COVAX Facility.


On March 8, 2021, Indonesia received 1,113,600 ready-to-use vaccine doses developed by AstraZeneca under the COVAX Facility.


Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, who has worked hard to win commitments for vaccine supplies through bilateral and multilateral agreements, said that Indonesia will be receiving a total of 11,704,800 shots as part of the first batch of supplies. Shipments of the first batch of vaccines will continue to be carried out until May, 2021, she added.


As of March 6, 2021, at least 2.4 million Indonesians have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and in the next six months, about 140 million people are expected to receive COVID-19 shots.


"Our target is that vaccinations are completed in one year. In the first six months, only 90 million doses of vaccine were available for 45 million Indonesians," Sadikin said.

Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who is also chairman of the Committee for Handling COVID-19 and National Economic Recovery (KPC-PEN), recently highlighted the government's target to complete the national vaccination program by the end of 2021.


Citing President Widodo's directive, the minister said that 182 million people over 19 years of age will be accorded priority for vaccination.


He stressed on the importance of vaccinations, particularly for healthy people, to build herd immunity.


"Today, about 160 thousand people are being vaccinated per day. The next target will be increased to around 500 thousand people per day and then raised to one million people per day. This vaccination must also be balanced with the readiness of vaccinators and the availability of vaccines," Hartarto said.


The minister further pointed out that the KPC-PEN budget for 2021 has been fixed at Rp699.43 trillion, a 21-percent increase from the realized budget of Rp579 trillion last year. The budget comprises allocations of Rp176.40 trillion for health and Rp157.41 trillion for social protection.


According to the governments vaccination roadmap, about 1.46 million healthcare workers will receive COVID-19 jabs until April, 2021.


Later, the number of senior citizens and public service officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is estimated to touch 21.5 million and 16.9 million, respectively.


The Indonesian military and police have also started vaccinating officers. Recently in Jakarta, Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army, General Andika Perkasa, received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Army Headquarters, commencing a simultaneous nationwide vaccination of 353,647 soldiers. The Army has also deployed at least 500 healthcare workers to administer the vaccine.


Besides expediting the administration of vaccines, the government has also been intensifying contact tracing to check COVID-19 transmission. Trained military and police personnel have been roped in for the purpose.


Chief of the national COVID-19 handling task force, Doni Monardo, praised the involvement of TNI and Polri personnel and said it is the correct step since many have a medical background. In fact, the TNI and Polri have several hospitals in various regions across the country.


"Several Babinsa (community police) personnel have a background as nurses. It is not difficult to train those, with experience of being nurse, to serve as tracers," Monardo remarked while addressing the National Coordinating Meeting on Disaster Mitigation, organized by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).


In fact, several countries are also currently deploying military personnel to function as COVID-19 case tracers, he informed.


Moreover, it is easy to train TNI and Polri members since they are selected and trained personnel from the start, he pointed out. Moreover, they are present in every region across the country and also in rural areas, he added.


The task force intends to hone the capabilities of TNI and Polri officers to enable them to train several volunteers in various regions, who have joined the tracer team, Monardo noted.


The National Police has readied 13,500 personnel from its health service division as vaccinators and 40,336 others as contact-tracers to support the national vaccination and contact-tracing program.


"Nine hundred of the 13,500 personnel have been trained to be vaccinators, while 12,600 others will receive the same training in the near future," National Police chief, Gen.Listyo Sigit Prabowo, said recently.


Indonesia needs around 80 thousand contact-tracers in villages, and, due to a lack of personnel, the Health Ministry has not been able to meet the demand alone. Therefore, it is collaborating with the police and TNI.


"The coronavirus pandemic is a war. That is why we are here to work with the TNI commander and National Police chief to fight this war," Minister Sadikin said.

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