Vax rate in Bali’s Tabanan regency claimed to have reached 104 percent, but some people have not gotten their jabs. So we did the math

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

When you hear that the vaccination rate in a certain region has reached a hundred percent, it’s only natural to assume that it means everyone has been vaccinated, right?

But if we allow ourselves to be pedantic about the official numbers, we would see that that’s not necessarily the case and officials may be stretching the numbers somewhat for appearances’ sake. 

Take Bali’s Tabanan regency, for example, where officials say plenty of citizens have yet to receive their first COVID jab even when, officially, the vaccination coverage in the region has reached 104 percent of the population. 

Now, according to regional authorities, that’s because certain residents, such as those pregnant or children aged 12-17, weren’t eligible for the initial rollouts of the COVID-19 vaccines. According to a report by Radar Bali, an official also explained that the numbers include people from other regions. 

Official data from the Indonesian Health Ministry shows that 340,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine in Tabanan as of today, out of a total of 461,630 residents in the regency. 

If you’ve figured it out at this point, congratulations. For those who haven’t, here’s the thing: that 104 percent claim is only true if you’re solely counting Tabanan’s vaccine-targeted population of 70 percent, which translates to about 322,000 people. Officials might be saying 104 percent (though if you do the math for real it’s actually more like 105 percent, if we want to be completely pedantic), but what they really mean is 74 percent of the total population in Tabanan. 

What’s even more concerning is that this only reflects those who have gotten their first COVID jab. The number of people who have been fully vaxxed in Tabanan regency currently stands at around 201,000, which translates to over 43 percent of the total population (though if you’re looking at data from the Health Ministry’s official website, they say it’s 48.87 percent of the provincial target). 

Sadly, this isn’t even the first time we’re seeing officials pulling numbers out of their asses. In June, Bali’s Gianyar regency claimed it had reached herd immunity against COVID-19, but that’s because it didn’t take into account the region’s entire population.

As we’ve seen time and time again throughout the pandemic, Bali officials need to be better about communicating data to the public, especially when those data are crucial in conveying the public health situation amid this ongoing pandemic. Like most people, we don’t necessarily like math either, but surely we have a public responsibility to do calculations correctly where reporting on vaccination coverage is concerned. And we believe that officials should be held at a higher standard than that.

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