Shot and shop: Association proposes COVID-19 vaccination at Indonesian malls

Shops in South Jakarta’s Pondok Indah Mall closed due to the government’s social distancing advisory in April 2020. Photo: <em>Nadia Vetta Hamid/Coconuts Jakarta</em>
Shops in South Jakarta’s Pondok Indah Mall closed due to the government’s social distancing advisory in April 2020. Photo: Nadia Vetta Hamid/Coconuts Jakarta

Such is Indonesians’ love for malls that it was only a matter of time before somebody floated the idea of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at the shopping center.

Such a proposal has come from the Indonesian Shopping Centers Management Association (APPBI), which they say may prove beneficial to both the public and business owners.

“We are proposing to the government to carry out jabs at shopping centers in order to speed up distribution [of the vaccine],” APPBI Chairwoman Ellen Hidayat said in a press conference today.

Ellen said mall visits in Java and Bali have decreased by 8 percent to 32 percent of capacity ever since the Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM), the central government’s latest partial lockdown protocol, was imposed this month. Vaccination at the mall, Ellen said, could help boost the numbers once again.

Health authorities have previously temporarily shuttered shopping malls upon the discovery of individual COVID-19 cases. However, in Jakarta, where mall dependency is arguably the strongest in all of Indonesia, authorities have never directly linked any sizable COVID-19 clusters to shopping centers, as APPBI pointed out.

“We stress that Jakarta malls are not the source of COVID-19 clusters. We always follow health protocols to alleviate the public’s worries,” Ellen said.

From January to April, the government is prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines to health workers and essential workers. The vaccines will be given to the general public from April to March 2022. The government has not yet disclosed where vaccine stations will be set up, but the matter will likely be in the purview of regional or district officials.

The government says it aims to vaccinate 181.5 million people of the country’s population of 270 million by 2022 to trigger herd immunity against the coronavirus.

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