December 16th local time, Indonesian President Joko announced that the government would provide the coronavirus vaccine to the public free of charge. He also said he would be the first person in the country to get a vaccine against the coronavirus.
According to Singapore’s Straits Times on the 16th, Joko said in the YouTube live video: “I want to emphasize again that I will be the first person to be vaccinated. This is to help the public build trust and security in vaccine safety.”
Previously, an online survey by the Indonesian Ministry of Health found that 64.8% of the respondents wanted to be vaccinated if there was a vaccine available, 27.6% were skeptical of the government vaccination plan, and 7.6% refused to be vaccinated. The survey also showed that only 35% of the respondents were willing to pay for the vaccine, 38% were unwilling to pay, and the rest were uncertain.
Zoko said he has ordered the finance minister to prioritize vaccination plans and redistribute the state budget to ensure that all people can get vaccinated.
According to Indonesia’s International Daily, Dicky Buddyman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, said he appreciated Zoko’s announcement of free coronavirus vaccination to the public. He said that this means that the debate about the government’s vaccination plan has been clarified. Previously, the Indonesian government provided two vaccination plans, namely, government-subsidized vaccines or self-funded vaccinations.
Bloomberg pointed out in an article on the 16th that Indonesia was the first Southeast Asian country to start a vaccination program. The Straits Times reported that on December 6, Indonesia had purchased the first batch of coronavirus vaccines overseas, about 1.2 million doses. At present, the Indonesian government has decided to purchase 155.5 million doses of vaccine from Novavax and other companies in the United States. In addition, the Indonesian government is also negotiating with vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Kovax.
It is reported that vaccination is expected to officially start in early 2021. According to the existing plan, medical staff, police and military personnel working on the front line of the fight against the epidemic can be given priority to vaccination. Unlike other countries, Indonesia gives priority to vaccinating the young population rather than favoring the elderly.
Indonesian Health Minister Putranto said that the elderly, patients and pregnant women were not included in the vaccination priority list because Indonesia did not have data to ensure the safety of vaccines for such populations. Bloomberg reported that Amin Soebandrio, director of the Ekman Institute of Molecular Biology in Jakarta, Indonesia, said: “Our goal is herd immunity. Vaccinate the most active and infectious people (people aged 18 to 59), and they can form a fortress to protect other people.”
Indonesia targets procurement of a total of 247 million doses of vaccine to reach at least 107 million people. Bloomberg noted that 107 million people represent only 67 percent of the country’s 18-59 population and 40 percent of the total population, which is significantly lower than the proportion of people needed for “herd immunity” after vaccination (60%–72 percent).