Health minister talks up Indonesia’s mass vaccination progress

Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin. Photo: Youtube/Presidential Secretariat
Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin. Photo: Youtube/Presidential Secretariat

Indonesia’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis may be remembered for its numerous missteps, but the same arguably can’t be said about its mass vaccination program, with the government now patting themselves in the back for their role in thrusting Indonesia to be among the world’s leading nations in terms of vax numbers.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who was appointed in December 2020 to replace his controversial predecessor Terawan Agus Putranto, took pride in the fact that Indonesia, which began its mass vaccination program in mid-January, is among the countries that have administered the most COVID-19 shots in the world. 

As of March 24, Indonesia ranked 13th in the world with 8.23 million doses given — an even more impressive feat considering that five countries that rank above Indonesia, namely the US, China, Russia, the UK, and India, have developed and produced their own vaccines.

“Outside of those five, countries are scrambling to get their hands on the vaccines,” Budi said at the inauguration of a new vaccination center in Depok, West Java today.

“We are now above the United Arab Emirates and far above Singapore. We’re far above Italy and Spain.”

Chalking Indonesia’s relative success down to the government’s proactiveness in ordering vaccines way ahead of time, Budi noted that Indonesia’s vaccination rate will soon pick up considering that in the first six months of the vaccination program, only 24 percent of the total doses required to trigger herd immunity will be administered. The remaining 76 percent will be administered in the following six months, in line with the government’s target of concluding its mass vaccination program in early 2022.

Indonesia needs to inoculate some 181 million people, or 70 percent of its population, in order to trigger herd immunity against COVID-19. That figure translates to 363 million doses.

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