Jakarta. The Indonesian government plans to administer the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine for 1.47 million health workers starting next week, the health minister said on Friday.
The announcement came amid a dramatic surge in newly Covid cases that now near 40,000 per day, among the highest daily figures in the world.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the upcoming round of vaccination will use a vaccine developed by US drug company Moderna TC Inc. after receiving approval from the Drug and Food Supervisory Agency (BPOM) and the Indonesia Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ITAGI).
"The third round of vaccination has been approved and we will use Moderna vaccine to trigger immune response to the existing variants of the virus," Budi said in a news conference.
The privilege is given to health workers “who deal with patients on a daily basis amid an uptick in infection rate”, Budi said.
“We must ensure a maximum protection to them so that they can concentrate on their job,” he said.
The US government has pledged an assistance of 3 million Moderna doses expected to arrive this weekend, followed by a BPOM move to authorize its use.
Moderna is the fourth vaccine to be administered in the country, which also uses vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm.
Moderna is the first mRNA vaccine authorized for use here. It works by “teaching human cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside their bodies”, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Honesti Basyir, the chief executive of state-run vaccine producer Bio Farma, said earlier a third dose is meant as a booster and it may use a different vaccine brand from the previous two.
Indonesia has administered more than 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine since the campaign began in January, with 14.87 million citizens already fully vaccinated, according to government figures released on Friday.
The country has recorded a total of 2.46 million cases as of Friday, an increase of more than 38,000 cases on the previous figures a day earlier.
An additional 871 Covid patients have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total fatality toll to 64,631.
The total number of active cases stands at 367,733, the highest ever since the outbreak began.