Balinese punk rocker Jerinx, who has never been shy in airing his controversial views against rational thinking regarding COVID-19, has finally gotten his Sinovac jab but soon found that he had to defend himself from public ridicule.
Jerinx, whose real name is I Gede Ari Astina, got his jab at the Jakarta Metro Police HQ on Sunday. Jerinx recently travelled to Jakarta after he was named a suspect for making a threat against a renowned social media personality.
A photo of Jerinx getting his shot with a policeman gleefully giving his thumbs up as if an impossible achievement was unlocked went viral, prompting many to ridicule Jerinx for apparently swallowing his pride after months of championing and perpetuating conspiracy theories about the pandemic.
Jerinx has hit back against the accusation, stressing in an Instagram post this morning that he has never been against the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Since the beginning, I never said I was anti-vax. You can cross-check on the internet,” he wrote, adding that he has held off on getting the jab until now because he had only recently received confirmation from a virologist he trusts that the vaccine is safe for someone with his underlying medical conditions.
Jerinx also rejected the idea that he may have gotten his jab in exchange for leniency by the authorities in his fresh criminal case, adding that he got it on his own accord.
To be fair to Jerinx, the punk rocker was right in that he was never explicitly anti-vax — at least online. Nevertheless, his getting the jab would hopefully sway the legions of COVID-deniers who see him as an icon for alternative yet misinformed thinking about the pandemic.
Jerinx was only released from prison in June after having served his controversial conviction for hate speech. He was found guilty after accusing the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) of being “flunkeys” to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Instagram, which he claimed during trial was out of frustration that pregnant women had to undergo unreliable rapid tests for COVID-19 prior to delivery.
Compounding the issue is that Jerinx’s vocal rejection against rapid tests coincided with his active sharing and endorsement of COVID-19-related conspiracy theories on social media, including calls for people to stop wearing masks during the pandemic.