Indonesia sends out vans to speed up Covid-19 vaccination roll-out

A woman receiving a Covid-19 vaccine dose at a mobile vaccination van in Jakarta on July 8, 2021.
A woman receiving a Covid-19 vaccine dose at a mobile vaccination van in Jakarta on July 8, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - As Indonesia struggles to tackle a devastating surge in Covid-19 infections, the authorities in Jakarta have deployed teams of health workers to drive around the capital and vaccinate communities in crowded, harder-to-access districts.

On Thursday (July 8), the first day of operations, at least 16 mini-vans fanned out across the Jakarta area to each administer 100 doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac Biotech vaccine.

In one south Jakarta district, residents came out to a park to await their vaccination.

"My advice for the government is to speed up the vaccinations, because there are many people who haven't been vaccinated yet," said 51-year-old resident Mr Widodo, who like many Indonesians, goes by one name. He also suggested children should be prioritised for vaccination.

The world's fourth-most populous country has set ambitious targets to inoculate 181.5 million people by early next year, but up to now, only around 5.4 per cent of a total population of more than 270 million have been fully inoculated.

With hospitals in Jakarta and across Java island now overflowing with patients amid record numbers of infections driven by the Delta variant first detected in India, the government has been scrambling to speed up the vaccine roll-out.

"This is a lot easier for me because it's organised in our neighbourhood," said Ms Yeni Nawang, 21, another resident getting inoculated, noting how she had seen others struggling to access vaccines.

Dr Ray Wijaya, a 25-year-old doctor working with one of the mobile vaccine vans, said the teams aimed to reach those who might otherwise be overlooked.

"Our target, as planned by the Health Ministry, is to focus on residents who lack access to healthcare and vaccination centres," he said. "We come to them."