Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Maria Fatima Bona, Jakarta – Indonesia on Wednesday launched the second round of mass vaccination against coronavirus targeting public service workers and elderly citizens, including Vice President Ma'ruf Amin who is 77.
Thousands of traders at Tanah Abang Market in Central Jakarta become the first group of workers to receive the vaccine as "pilot project" in the second round.
According to Health Ministry data, at least 9,700 traders in the country's biggest apparel market have registered for the free vaccination program.
There are around 55,000 traders and other workers in the market, according to an estimate.
If concluded successfully, the vaccination drive will expand to other markets in Greater Jakarta, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told reporters at Tanah Abang, one of Jakarta's busiest business areas.
"There are around 115 markets in Greater Jakarta if I'm not mistaken. We will reach those places in stages and Tanah Abang Market will serve as model for similar drive in other provinces," he said.
Indonesia has inoculated 1.1 million people of mainly medical workers in the first round that began on Jan. 13.
Ma'ruf received the first shot of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech at his official residence in Jakarta after the Drug and Food Supervisory Agency (BPOM) approved its use for elderly citizens.
The approval is based on results from clinical trial involving people above 60 in China and Brazil which show no adverse effects.
The BPOM advised that elderly people be administered two doses of Sinovac vaccine in a 28-day interval.
"I fulfill my promise that I will get myself vaccinated according to the rule if research confirms it can be administered to elderly people like me," Ma'ruf said.
People aged above 60 years make up 10.7 percent of the total number of confirmed cases countrywide and the fatality rate among them is alarmingly high.
According to Health Ministry figures, 48.3 percent of Covid-19 patients in this age group have succumbed to the disease."We accompanied the vice president when he received the jab this morning. Hopefully this will motivate other elderly citizens across Indonesia to come and receive the vaccine immediately," the health minister said.
He has earlier stated that elderly people get the priority due to higher risk of fatality when infected.
The current vaccination drive targets around 21.5 million elderly people mostly in the worst-affected provinces in Java and Bali. It may take two months to complete the program.
The campaign also targets 16.9 million workers in transportation, hospitality, trade and other public sectors. Government employees and members of the media are also included in this second round of vaccination.