Indonesia to visit 'reluctant' elderly to get them vaccinated against Covid-19

Full vaccination coverage among people of 60 years and older has only reached 15.8 per cent, the lowest of all three priority groups in Indonesia.
Full vaccination coverage among people of 60 years and older has only reached 15.8 per cent, the lowest of all three priority groups in Indonesia.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesia is intensifying efforts to boost Covid-19 vaccination for its "reluctant" elderly population as the country's daily death count remains among the highest in the world.

Eight months into its massive inoculation campaign, full vaccination coverage among people of 60 years and older has only reached 15.8 per cent, the lowest of all three priority groups in Indonesia that include health workers and public officials.

Fear of side effects, lack of mobility and support from family members, as well as disinformation are the main reasons for the low ratio, according to health ministry data.

The elderly makes up almost half of all Covid-19 deaths in Indonesia, despite accounting for 12 per cent of confirmed infections.

The government will go door-to-door to increase participation and offer free transportation to nearby vaccination booths, said Siti Nadia Tarmizi, spokesperson for the nation's Covid-19 task force.

"We must increase the rate to 70 per cent to reach sufficient immunity," she said in a briefing Friday. The elderly's current coverage is also low compared with a rate of around 60-70 per cent in the US, she added.

South-east Asia's largest economy has been topping the world's tally of daily Covid-19 deaths with more than 1,000 fatality recorded every day since mid-July. New infections are spreading outside its main island of Java, risking a worsening outbreak as the virus reaches areas with less-equipped healthcare systems and lower vaccination coverage.

The elderly accounts for 8.2 per cent of Indonesia's 270 million population, the government said. With about 78 million doses administered so far, nearly 10 per cent of Indonesians have been fully inoculated. That compares with 30 per cent in neighbouring Malaysia and 8.5 per cent in India, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.