The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo hopes the national COVID-19 vaccination program will begin in January 2021.
“Insya Allah [God willing], we will start the shots in January. In our prediction, we may return to normal next year. Let us all pray together so that we will return to normal quickly,” said Jokowi while handing out presidential aid at the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java on Friday, as reported by kompas.id.
He went on to say that the vaccination program aimed to reach 70 percent of the Indonesian population – or around 182 million people. The vaccination of that proportion of the population would, it is believed, ensure herd immunity.
As it stands, there are only enough vaccines in the country for 600,000 recipients. The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) is studying additional candidate vaccines to determine whether to authorize emergency use.
“I will be given the vaccine first to show that it is all right,” said the President.
Jokowi reminded the public that the vaccination program would take some time because of the country’s large population. He said the program would be carried out in stages, beginning with health workers, members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police (Polri) before reaching the general public.
The President reasserted that any future vaccine would be approved by the BPOM and would be declared halal by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). Vaccination, he said, would be free for all Indonesians.
Separately, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said in a Kompas Collaboration Forum (KCF) virtual discussion on Friday that the government was still working on providing enough vaccines for all Indonesians.
According to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses will be available in 2021. As many as 3.76 billion future vaccine doses have been reserved by less than 50 countries, including Indonesia.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company Kalbe Farma CEO Vidjongtius said that as an archipelagic state, Indonesia’s geography would be a challenge in the national vaccination program.
“A good quality of vaccines equals a good quality of vaccine distribution. We do not want decreasing quality of vaccines because of poor distribution handling to ever happen,” he added.
Read also: China to start vaccination in early 2021
Indonesia has the ability to store vaccines at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be kept at negative 70 degrees Celsius.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Saturday that it was monitoring reports of allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine and had made recommendations about how people with histories of allergies should proceed, Reuters reported.
Anyone who has had a severe reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine should not get the second dose, the agency said, defining severe as requiring the administration of epinephrine or treatment in a hospital.
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine should avoid vaccine formulations containing the ingredient, the CDC said. Two vaccines have been authorized for emergency use in the United States.
The US Food and Drug Administration is investigating some five allergic reactions that occurred after people received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the United States this week. (nkn)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.