Opening Independent Vaccination Opportunities, Jokowi: Why Not?
Screenshot of President Jokowi opening the Kompas100 CEO Forum in 2021

JAKARTA - President Joko Widodo is considering proposals from business actors to independently vaccinate COVID-19. Currently this proposal is still under discussion by the government.

One of the considerations for this proposal is that it can accelerate the vaccination program needed by Indonesia to control the COVID-19 pandemic at home.

"This is what we are just about to decide, because of what, because we need to accelerate, it needs to be as much as possible. What else will the costs be borne by the company itself, why not?" he said, when virtually opening Kompas100 CEO Forum 2021, Thursday, January 21.

However, Jokowi said there needed to be a difference between vaccinations that the government provides for free and vaccinations through independent channels. One of them is the difference in the use of vaccine types. He also asked that this issue be managed properly so that people would not be caught wrongly.

"Maybe it can be given (independent vaccine) as long as the brand of vaccine is different, the place to do the vaccine is also different, it can be done," he said.

Currently, Indonesia has committed to purchasing vaccines with a number of producers such as Sinovac, Novavax, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

Jokowi is also optimistic that vaccinations can be completed in less than one year for the 182.5 million targets vaccinated. This is done by counting the number of vaccinators, health centers, and hospitals currently available.

"This is why I ever said that we didn't have a year, we should have finished our vaccinations, because the numbers I calculated we could," he said.

Jokowi said that currently there are 30,000 vaccinators who can vaccinate. In addition, there are also 10,000 Puskesmas and 3,000 hospitals for vaccination sites. However, this also needs to be supported by the availability of vaccines.

Previously, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir opened the opportunity for an independent, alias paid COVID-19 vaccine. As it is known, currently there is only one route for giving vaccines, namely through free vaccination by the government.

This free vaccination was decided after President Joko Widodo asked his ministers to give the COVID-19 vaccine free to all Indonesians.

However, Erick emphasized that currently the government's priority is free vaccines. Meanwhile, independent vaccines are not yet a priority. Even so, his party did not close the option of independent vaccination.

"Of course, independent vaccines are not a priority, free vaccines are prioritized. But that does not turn a blind eye. Independent vaccines are also needed," he said at a working meeting with Commission VI of the House of Representatives, Wednesday, January 20.

Vaccines must be different types and brands

Erick explained that if the independent vaccine route is opened, the types and brands of vaccines will be different from the free vaccines provided by the government.

"If we are assigned an independent vaccine, of course, as directed by the leadership, there are several notes, one vaccine is of different types. So that free and independent ones are not mixed. So the vaccine brands are different," he said.

Apart from the types of vaccines, said Erick, the timing of the independent and free vaccines will also be different. Where, the free vaccine will take precedence, only then will the independent vaccine be given.

"So the free vaccine must run, in the next 1 to 2 months, only later if someone is independent after that. We got (information) from yesterday's discussions," he said.

Regarding this independent vaccination, Erick is still waiting for an assignment from the Ministry of Health. This is because the BUMN Ministry will only carry out the tasks assigned by the central government.

"If indeed this is a decision with a clear legal umbrella, but actually in the Ministry of Health's decision at that time there is a free and independent vaccine. We just need to apply it, whether later assigned an independent vaccine to run or not," he said.

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