Health workers administer a dummy injection in a Covid-19 vaccination simulation in Denpasar, Bali, on Dec 10. (Antara Photo/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo)

Gov't Raises Free Vaccination Target to 53m People After Public Pushback


DECEMBER 14, 2020

Jakarta. The government has raised its target of providing the Covid-19 vaccine for free to 53.5 million people from just 32 million people earlier, Widodo Muktiyo, the director-general of information and public communication Communication and Information technology Ministry said on Monday. 

The announcement came following public outrage in social media about the government's earlier decision to sell the Covid-19 vaccine to most Indonesians instead of providing them for free.

Indonesia is the only country among the world's most populous democracies that decided to commercialize the vaccine. India, the United States, and Brazil decided to give the Covid-19 vaccine for all at no cost. 

The government targets to vaccinate 107 million people between 18 to 59 years old or about 67 percent of the total population in the age group of 167 million people. Under the original plan, the government determined that only 30 percent or 32 million people received free vaccines. Meanwhile, the remaining 70 percent or 75 million people were expected to buy the vaccine from state-owned pharmaceutical companies like Bio Farma, Kimia Farma, or Indo Farma. 

However, critics panned the plan, saying vaccination was a public good that must be fulfilled by the state, especially during a pandemic. Even a tiny portion of the population still susceptible to the vaccine would mean the Covid-19 could linger and spread across the country again when the vaccine's effect worn out. 

So, Widodo said the government revised the plan to ensure more people get vaccinated.

"The government decided to give free vaccination to 50 percent of the people, up from previously 30 percent," Widodo said. 

According to the Health Ministry's Covid-19 Vaccine Acceptance Survey in Indonesia, most people know about the government's plan for Covid-19 vaccination next year. 

Two in three respondents who took part in the online survey said they would take the vaccine, as opposed to 8 percent who rejected it and 27 percent who doubt it. 

While their willingness to accept vaccination was high, only one in three Indonesians was willing to pay for the vaccine. The survey found around 38 percent were unwilling to pay, and about 27 percent were undecided. 

Among those willing to pay, Rp 50,000 to Rp 100,000 ($3.6-$7.2) was the most acceptable price range for the vaccine. Most of the undecided said they might consider taking the vaccine if the cost was below Rp 50,000.