Indonesia's Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin says young people may soon be able to get their vaccines way ahead of schedule if they bring two senior citizens along with them, in a bid to encourage the elderly to get inoculated against COVID-19 in the Southeast Asian country.
"I will issue a policy immediately. One young volunteer can be injected with [COVID-19 vaccine] as long as they bring along two elderly people, because they can be pretty difficult to persuade," Budi said today.
Budi said that the attempt would be crucial in order to fulfill Indonesia's target of inoculating 21.5 million senior citizens in the ongoing second stage of the national COVID-19 vaccination program, which prioritizes public service workers and those over the age of 59.
Indonesia is expected to commence vaccinations for the general public in September.
Elderly people are one of the most vulnerable groups to be exposed to coronavirus, and contribute to the highest COVID-19 mortality rate in Indonesia.
The main challenge for Indonesia's mass vaccination program, Budi said, is the availability of the vaccines itself. The country has received at least 57.6 million doses of vaccines – – comprising 53.5 million bulk form vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac and about 1.1 million doses of ready-to-use vaccines from Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
Indonesia needs to inoculate some 181 million people, or 70 percent of its population, in order to trigger herd immunity against COVID-19. Budi also said that the government is in talks to procure more than 426 million doses from four pharmaceutical companies to achieve that goal.
As of March 25, Indonesia has administered the first of two required doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine to 6,389,837 people, while 2,941,016 people have received their second dose.