Just one day before the rollout of COVID-19 booster shots for the general public begins, President Joko Widodo issued a statement that the third dose will be administered at no cost to all who are eligible.
Primary COVID-19 shots were and are fully subsidized by the government, and officials repeatedly previously said that booster shots would only be free for elderly citizens (60 or above) and those registered under a social aid program.
While Indonesians have been wondering how much they would have to spend for their booster jabs, President Jokowi dropped quite the bombshell today.
"I have decided that the administration of third doses will be free to all of the Indonesian people. Because, once again, the safety of the people is our priority," Jokowi said in a press conference.
The booster shot program is commencing tomorrow (Jan. 12), initially targeting some 21 million people in 244 cities/regencies that have fully vaccinated at least 60 percent of their population.
The elderly and vulnerable groups will be prioritized for booster shots upon the program's launch, while other groups are expected to follow soon after.
It's not yet clear if there will still be options to pay for certain vaccine brands for booster jabs. Indonesians are understandably concerned about current imposed limitations for mixing and matching vaccines in the country despite studies abroad encouraging the practice for greater protection against the coronavirus.
As for the government's 11th hour 180 on who should burden the cost of the booster shots, it's worth noting that Jokowi also decided on making primary COVID-19 shots free for everyone just weeks before the official rollout. Before that, the government mulled subsidizing only economically-vulnerable citizens.