Indonesia is aiming to begin COVID-19 mass vaccination for citizens by mid-February, the country’s leader said on Wednesday.
In a news conference after getting his second shot of the Sinovac vaccine, President Joko Widodo said inoculation for the general public will start after the vaccination drive for 1.4 million health workers is completed.
“I think in mid-February, the army and police, public service workers, and the public will be able to get vaccination,” he said.
Indonesia, which has recorded over 1.1 million coronavirus cases and nearly 28,500 fatalities to date, started its vaccine rollout on Jan. 13, with the president being the first recipient.
At least 250,000 health workers have been vaccinated over the past two weeks, a figure that is much lower than the target of 900,000 to 1 million people a day.
“That was the target, but it does take time and good field management,” said Widodo.
Amid a surge in inaccurate information and fake news regarding COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia, a medical association has urged health workers to not be afraid of going for the jab.
“My fellow health workers, there’s no need to worry. I only experienced a side effect once, it went away after five hours,” said Daeng Faqih, chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), stressing the importance of vaccination for those leading the fight against COVID-19.
“We, who directly face the patients, need to be vaccinated immediately due to the higher risk,” he said.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration has so far only approved Chinese firm Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine for emergency use.
Indonesia has finalized agreements to purchase the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, and is also working on a deal for the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
* Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian-language service in Jakarta.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.