Decision on Vaccine Priority for Red Zones Expected Soon: Erick Thohir

State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir. TEMPO/Nurdiansah

, JakartaThe government will soon decide whether COVID-19 red zones will be prioritized in the vaccination program, said deputy chair of the COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPC-PEN), Erick Thohir.

“Let us wait for the government’s decision [which is expected] within one or two days. There will be a meeting with governors, mayors, and district heads for talks about whether we should prioritize red zones with high infection and mortality rates,” he said at a webinar here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the webinar themed “preparing infrastructure for COVID-19 vaccination data”, Thohir said, in keeping with Presidential Regulation No.99/2020, the government has set a preliminary target of vaccinating those aged between 18 and 59 years.

He also appealed to citizens to participate actively in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Research has revealed that 66 percent of Indonesians are keen to get vaccinated, while 16 percent are reluctant to join the vaccination program, he noted.

“I do not know the reasons of those refusing to get vaccinated. Regarding the issues of halal or haram, we have let the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) to resolve this matter,” he said.

Speaking about the vaccination program, Thohir urged Indonesians who are financially capable to pay for their own COVID-19 vaccine doses to help reduce the financial burden on the government.

He said the government will provide COVID-19 vaccines under the government’s aid-based vaccination program and a self-initiative vaccination program.

The government’s aid-based vaccination program has been prepared for health workers and eligible members of communities, as revealed in data from the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan), he said.

Meanwhile, the self-initiative vaccination program will cover financially-capable people, he added.

Indonesia has been striving to win the fight against the novel coronavirus disease, which initially emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 and then spread worldwide, including to nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesia officially announced its first infections on March 2 this year.

Early this week, the Task Force for COVID-19 Response confirmed that Indonesia had recorded 4,198 additional recoveries and 4,442 fresh cases of COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours.

The Indonesian government has consistently expressed confidence in the potential of the COVID-19 vaccine for helping win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed a grave threat to public health and the economy.

Over the past few months, the government has been working to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines for Indonesians through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

The government is also supporting research efforts towards developing the country’s own COVID-19 vaccine, Merah Putih (Red and White), named after the colors of the national flag.

In addition, Indonesia is cooperating with China and the United Kingdom for the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

To prepare for the first phase of the COVID-19 immunization program, scheduled in the third week of December, 2020, President Joko Widodo has instructed ministries and agencies to conduct nationwide COVID-19 vaccination simulations.

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