4 million medical workers in Indonesia up for second booster shot: health minister

File photo of a health worker preparing to inject the COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Photo: Ministry of Health
File photo of a health worker preparing to inject the COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Photo: Ministry of Health

Indonesia has kicked off its second round of booster jabs by further inoculating medical workers against COVID-19, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said today, as vaccine-driven immunity is expected to wane over time.

Budi said the government has begun administering second booster shots — the fourth overall — to medical workers, as it aims to administer jabs to 4 million medical workers throughout the country.

“We have begun distributing the fourth vaccination dose, and we are now prioritizing medical workers. It has been at least six months [since they received their third dose], and research data show that immunity levels wane after this period,” Budi said.

“For medical workers, we have many vaccine doses in stock; more than enough. There are 4 million medical workers in total.”

Health experts have been calling for the government to administer second booster shots, especially for medical workers, as Indonesia’s COVID-19 caseload rises due to the spread of Omicron’s sub-variants.

Last week, a Ministry of Health official said that the general public may soon begin receiving their second booster shots, pending an all-clear from the Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ITAGI).

Medical workers were the first group to be eligible for the third COVID-19 vaccine dose towards the end of 2021. The elderly and people with health risks were next in line, followed by the general public in early 2022.

After mobility curbs were significantly relaxed throughout the first half of 2022, the government has in recent weeks reimposed stricter requirements for entry to public spaces and travel amid rising cases. For instance, only people who have received booster shots are exempt from COVID-19 testing for travel.

Indonesia has so far administered 425 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. That translates to 63.6 percent of the population being fully vaccinated, or having received at least two doses of the vaccine. Only 20 percent of the population have received at least one booster shot.

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