President Joko Widodo today announced that Indonesians will not have to pay a single rupiah to receive COVID-19 vaccination once it becomes available.
The president announced the decision after weeks of public debate on who should have to pay to get inoculated from the viral disease.
“After receiving input from the public and recalculating costs, reviewing the state of the nation’s coffers, I can say that the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for the people,” President Jokowi said during a virtual presidential address today.
“Once more, free, as in no charges whatsoever.”
The president went on to say that he has instructed his administration, particularly the Finance Ministry, to prioritize the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program and tweak budgets accordingly.
Jokowi also said that he will be the very first person in the country to take the jab in order to dispel doubts about the vaccination program. He previously said he would be among the first people, along with health professionals, to receive the vaccine.
There is no word yet on whether or not foreigners residing in Indonesia would be eligible for free vaccination.
Earlier this month, Indonesia received 1.2 million doses of a vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac, which has yet to receive regulatory approval. The government is expecting 1.8 million more doses to arrive in January, along with the raw materials for Indonesia to produce 45 million doses of the vaccine.
The Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) is expected to issue regulatory approval for the vaccine in early 2021, pending advanced clinical trials that are being carried out in West Java.
Indonesia has also ordered vaccines from five other pharmaceutical firms, including from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which showed positive results from advanced clinical trials.
The government previously said it would fully subsidize COVID-19 vaccination for some 90 million low income citizens, which amounts to around one-third of the Indonesian population.