Reaching For Herd Immunity is Challenging but Worth It

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The Indonesian government has administered nearly 35.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine as of June 19, 2021, with 12,212,906 people receiving their second jabs and 22,873,342 others receiving their first shots of the vaccine.

The government is targeting 40 million people and giving priority to healthcare workers, public service officers, and senior citizens in the first and second phases of the national vaccination program. Overall, it aims to vaccinate at least 181.5 million citizens, or 70 percent of the population, to create herd immunity against the virus.

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To speed up vaccinations, the government is working to expand the capacity of vaccination services  offered to all citizens free of cost — with allocations from its budget as well as funding from the private sector, notably by encouraging company-funded vaccinations for employees.

The government-funded vaccination program has been implemented since January 13, 2021, while the private sector-funded vaccination program called Gotong Royong kicked off on May 18 this year.

It (Gotong Royong) is aimed at expanding the COVID-19 vaccination coverage. The government’s vaccination program and the Gotong Royong program will not use the same vaccines. Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Novavac, and Pfizer cannot be used in the Gotong Royong  program and this is what the Health Ministry’s spokesperson for COVID-19 vaccination, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said adding that China’s Sinopharm and Cansino vaccines will be provided under the Gotong Royong program.

To vaccinate the targeted 181.5 million recipients under the national program, the government will require around 426 million vaccine doses. Hence, the Health Ministry has urged people to not be picky about the COVID-19 vaccines offered by the government, saying the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared all currently authorized and recommended vaccines as safe.

At present, Indonesia’s total COVID-19 caseload exceeds 1.9 million and the number could spike due to the presence of new, more infectious COVID-19 variants.

Therefore, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has directed that the vaccination program be accelerated, saying he is eager to see Indonesia achieve herd immunity by the end of this year or early next year.

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