Herd immunity claim from Bali’s Gianyar regency doesn’t take into account region’s entire population

Photo of a health worker administering vaccine to a patient in Indonesia. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy
Photo of a health worker administering vaccine to a patient in Indonesia. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy

Bali’s Gianyar regency today claimed it has achieved herd immunity against COVID-19 with over 190,000 people in the region vaccinated, but the math doesn’t seem to add up.

The regency’s officials appear to have made the claim based on the region’s vaccine-eligible population, not its entire population.

According to the 2020 census, Gianyar’s total population is 515,344. As of this afternoon, the region ⁠— where Ubud is located ⁠— has reportedly managed to vaccinate a total of 194,113 people. That number is, of course, nowhere near 70 percent of its entire population, which is the targeted percentage to actually achieve herd immunity. 

Yet Gianyar regional secretary Ngakan Dharma Jati made the herd immunity claim regardless, as reported by Tribun today.

This is disturbingly in line with previous claims made by the Gianyar administration, which on June 6 already said they were inching closer to herd immunity after having vaccinated more than 155,000 people by that time, which translated to 63 percent of the population, according to an official statement.

Now, that’s because Gianyar is only counting its vaccine-eligible population of around 380,000 people. But you might be wondering how they even got to 63 percent when 155,000 is nowhere near half of 380,000, right? That’s because officials deemed that only 250,000 people are required to be vaccinated in the regency, based on that vaccine-eligible population. 

How did they get the 250,000 number, you ask? The closest explanation we can give you is that it’s supposed to illustrate 70 percent of that 380,000, but even a quick count on the calculator would show you that 250,000 is about 66 percent of 380,000. Talk about rounding up. 

Gianyar Regent Made Mahayastra said the region has been able to achieve such speedy vaccination through its banjar system, referring to local community centers in Bali. 

“With the banjar system, [it’s] the first in Bali [that] we are able to easily control giving the second doses of the vaccine,” Mahaystra said. 

While we must applaud the efforts of officials and health workers in vaccinating this many people so far, we hope that public statements about herd immunity reflect an accurate representation of reality, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. We simply hope that other regions in Indonesia, and the country as a whole for that matter, won’t be taking the same mathematical shortcuts to achieve the national herd immunity goal.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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