Asylum seekers must get vaccinated, Governor Anies Baswedan writes to Health Ministry

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan (Left) and Vice Governor Ahmad Riza Patria. Photo: Jakarta Provincial Government
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan (Left) and Vice Governor Ahmad Riza Patria. Photo: Jakarta Provincial Government

Refugees and asylum seekers must get their COVID-19 jabs for the greater good, argued Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who has written a letter to the Health Ministry urging for their vaccine eligibility.

In a letter dated July 12 but was only picked up and widely reported by local media outlets today, Anies wrote that it’s imperative for all asylum seekers over the age of 12 get their COVID-19 jabs.

“Day-to-day, they live among and conduct activities with Indonesian citizens. They also have difficulties in following health protocols and being placed in isolation [if they get sick with COVID-19], so they need protection,” Anies wrote. 

The governor noted that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in March 2021 wrote to the Jakarta Health Agency imploring that elderly refugees and those with pre-existing health conditions get access to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

However, Anies says that he wants to go one step beyond and have existing vaccine eligibility criteria for Indonesian citizens apply to refugees as well.

“We have great hope that the aforementioned group can be vaccinated through the program, and it can be carried out with coordination with the Jakarta Health Agency,” Anies continued.

The Health Ministry has yet to publicly respond to Anies’ request.

Since Indonesia’s mass vaccination program began in mid-January 2021, the country has administered the first dose of the vaccine to 50.6 million people as of Aug. 9, while 24.2 million people, or 11.63 percent of the targeted population, have received their second dose.

The program is fully subsidized and caters mostly to Indonesian nationals, though, officially, some foreign nationals — not asylum seekers — are eligible for the jab.

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