New year, new COVID-19 vaccination phase in Indonesia, as the government has set Jan. 12 as the possible launch date for its booster shot program.
Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who also heads the national committee for economic recovery from COVID-19, told reporters today that starting on that date, booster shots will first be rolled out at no cost to the elderly and at-risk recipients of the PBI BPJS social aid program.
A roll out to the general public is expected to follow soon after. However, unlike for their first two doses, they would have to pay for their booster shots. The government has yet to release an official price list for the different available shots, though each dose likely won't exceed IDR500K (US$35).
"What's being prepared for the third dose are [vaccines by] Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, and Sinopharm," Airlangga said.
The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) is expected to authorize the booster shot rollout within the week.
Indonesia has enjoyed several months of low COVID-19 numbers since its devastating mid-year wave. The government has been keen to expedite the booster shot rollout amid the looming threat from the highly contagious variant Omicron.
As of Dec. 30, Indonesia has officially detected the variant in 68 COVID-19 cases. Almost all involve travelers arriving from abroad, and only one of the 68 is believed to have been infected through community transmission.
With the vast majority of the Indonesian population having received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine, it is likely that demand would be high for mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna for booster shots. Preliminary studies suggest that three doses of the Sinovac vaccine are ineffective against Omicron.