A suspected syndicate selling booster shots to the general public before the government's official rollout is making headlines in Indonesia, even though officials are aware that vaccine corruption is not exactly new.
The Surabaya Health Agency said today it recently received a tip from a citizen who said that they had received a Sinovac booster shot for IDR250K (US$17.37). The agency says it believes that the illegal distribution of booster shots in the city is far more widespread and that there is a crime syndicate at play. The matter has been reported to the local police.
The Indonesian government is beginning its booster shot rollout on Jan. 12, initially targeting some 21 million people in 244 cities/regencies that have fully vaccinated at least 60 percent of their population.
Before this, booster shots are only available to health workers. While the general public rollout is less than a week away from today, the government has yet to announce details on where we can get our third dose and how much each would cost.
Lapor COVID-19, a civil society coalition that crowdsources coronavirus information throughout the country, said this week that it has received 71 reports related to COVID-19 vaccine swindling since September 2021, 33 of which were about the illegal allocation of booster shots to non-health workers.
"Booster shots have been in demand even before the Omicron scare. August and September were months in which the public looked for booster shots, which were supposed to be given only to health workers. This is where the opportunity for vaccine corruption arises," Lapor COVID-19 member Amanda Tan said.
The coalition said it has forwarded the reports to the Health Ministry, but noted that no meaningful action has been carried out.