Coronavirus Vaccination

Indonesia kicks off jabs for 38.5m people

Phase two of country's vaccination drive starts at S-E Asia's biggest textile market

The scene at Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta yesterday, where 10,000 of the 55,000 vendors had signed up to receive their first shot. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The scene at Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta yesterday, where 10,000 of the 55,000 vendors had signed up to receive their first shot. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The second phase of Indonesia's vaccination programme kicked off yesterday at South-east Asia's biggest textile market in Tanah Abang, with 10,000 vendors having signed up to receive their first shot.

The market in Central Jakarta was abuzz with excitement as 40 vaccinators made preparations for the inoculation.

There are 55,000 registered vendors at the market and while not all have signed up, the Health Ministry said more are likely to register in the coming days to receive their shots.

President Joko Widodo said the second phase aims to vaccinate at least 38.5 million people, including those aged 60 and above, public officials and people whose daily routine involves intensive social interactions.

Phase one, which was rolled out on Jan 13, saw about 1.5 million medical workers in the world's fourth most populous nation receive two shots of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who visited the textile market yesterday, told reporters that the government is not limiting the sites for inoculation to just health facilities.

"We vaccinate at health facilities, places of employment, at popular venues (like the market) and in stadiums, where mass vaccinations can be done," he said.

Indonesia is targeting to get 181.5 million people, or two-thirds of its more than 270 million population, vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Under phase two, there will be vaccination drives at markets, commercial centres across greater Jakarta and places across the most populous island of Java and Bali, before the programme is extended to the other provinces.

"Market vendors are prioritised because they interact with customers every day. Street vendors are also welcome," Dr Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, director-general of the country's disease control and prevention department, told reporters at Tanah Abang market.

He said that of the top 10 provinces with the highest infection rates in the country, seven are in Bali and Java.

Indonesia has so far relied on China's Sinovac vaccine for the free vaccine programme, but will start receiving vaccines later this month from Britain's AstraZeneca, Pfizer from the United States and Novavax from the US and Canada.

Indonesia currently has about 160,000 active Covid-19 cases, down from 175,000 last week.

It surpasses the 150,000 active cases in India, which has seen a significant decline in infections from its peak of one million active cases as at the third week of September last year.

  • 181.5m

  • Number of people, or two-thirds of its more than 270 million population that Indonesia is targeting to get vaccinated for the coronavirus.

To curb the spread of the virus, the health minister said the government will enlist the help of military and police officers to ramp up contact tracing efforts.

The World Health Organisation's recommendation is for all close contacts of a confirmed case to be identified within 72 hours of a positive result.

"This is something that can be achieved only if we rope in the military and police. A civilian organisation alone cannot do it," Mr Budi said, adding that the country's armed forces commander, Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, and the national police chief, General Listyo Sigit Prabowo, have agreed to the plan.

The armed forces and police are the only government branches with a chain of command which extends from Jakarta to all provinces and regions in the country, said Mr Budi.

He added that under a decentralisation programme introduced more than two decades ago, Jakarta has no control, for example, over community clinics run by a city or regency government.

Indonesia has 34 provinces, made up of more than 500 cities and regencies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2021, with the headline 'Indonesia kicks off jabs for 38.5m people'. Subscribe