The president was given the vaccine, after stating – between coughs – that he had not shown any symptoms of the disease in recent days. The decision to first immunise young people and workers between 18 and 59, instead of the elderly, has raised eyebrows. So far, 836,718 cases have been reported in Indonesia with 24,343 deaths.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday was the first Indonesian to be given the made-in-China anti-novel coronavirus Sinovac vaccine.
The whole day was dedicated to raising awareness about immunisation following the arrival of the first doses; meanwhile the health emergency is getting worse.
One of the other first beneficiaries was Fr Heri Wibowo, a Catholic priest and chairman of the Commission for interreligious dialogue of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI).
However, the vaccination campaign leaves something to be desired. Unlike other countries, such as Great Britain and Italy, the first to be immunised – along with healthcare workers – are people of productive age (18 to 59). Seniors, who make up the vast majority of victims so far, will be vaccinated at a later date.
“We have not yet completed clinical trials with the Sinovac vaccine on the elderly population,” said Nadia Wikeko, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Ministry of Health.
This is why the vaccination campaign is starting with young people and workers, even if some experts see it as a risky choice that will not reduce mortality. So far, Indonesia has reported 836,718 cases with and 24,343 deaths, the worst record in Southeast Asia.
The first phase will continue until the end of March, involving at least 1.3 million healthcare staff and 17.4 million workers – teachers, law enforcement officers, public servants, soldiers – who will receive the CoronaVac developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.
The second phase will be extended to the entire adult population, pending further checks on how effective the vaccine is with the elderly.
Following the green light from health authorities (BPOM) and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) on the vaccine’s lawfulness (Halal), Indonesian President Widodo was given the first dose in the Presidential Palace (pictured).
“I decided to start the vaccination campaign first, first of all as citizen, to avoid contracting the deadly virus,” said the president. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Before receiving the dose, his temperature was taken and he stated with some embarrassing coughs, that he had not contracted the virus in the 10 months since the pandemic started and that he had not shown any symptoms in the previous seven days.
After Widodo came Air Force Chief General Hadi Tjahjanto, Police Chief Hadi Tjahjanto, the Chairman of the Order of Physicians Dr Daeng M Faqih, and other prominent figures, including members of the entertainment industry.
The first Catholics to be given the vaccine was Fr Heri Wibowo. “I was invited to join the first session of vaccination at the presidential palace as a representative of the Bishops' Conference,” he told AsiaNews. “I hope everything will go well for me and for the others who receive the vaccine.”