Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi," Widodo said on Thursday that the government would start administering Covid-19 vaccination next week to public servants and workers in service industries, two weeks ahead of schedule, ramping up its effort to protect Indonesia's population from the pandemic.
"Starting next week, [the program] will start for people who are often in touch with the community," Jokowi said in an address to open the Sixth National Conference of the Association of Indonesian City Governments (Apeksi) from the State Palace in Jakarta.
"People with a high level of interaction, mobility, must come first [in the vaccination], for example, those who work at the markets or service sectors," Jokowi said.
Jokowi kicked off the vaccination program by taking the first-dose shot on Jan 13. Indonesia targets to vaccinate more than 181 million people aged 18 and above by the end of March next year.
Initially, the government aimed to complete vaccinating 1.47 million medical workers first by the end of February before moving on to other groups.
So far, the country has managed to inject the first vaccine dose to close to one million people. Yesterday, it administered more than 181,000 vaccine shots, the highest daily number so far. Should the pace continue, all the health workers should be covered by next week.
The President asked city mayors attending the meeting to carry out the vaccination at a cluster or communal level at a time, instead of administering them individually.
"For example, let's vaccinate all the employees in at a city mall simultaneously, because they will interact with a lot of people," he said.
He also asked the mayors to arranged for mass vaccination in their respective cities that could vaccinate thousands of people at a time.
"Gather them at the sports hall or the city hall in large numbers. So, we can do daily vaccine injections in large quantities, and herd immunity will soon be achieved," Jokowi said.
The president said that the central government continued to obtain additional vaccines from various sources to add to the 24 million doses of CoronaVac, made by China's Sinovac Biotech, in stock today.
That was not an easy task as 215 countries were now in bidding wars to get the vaccine from a limited number of producers, Jokowi said. Fortunately, the government has secured commitments from various vaccine manufacturers for 426 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
"Currently, only 42 countries have been able to carry out the vaccination. Others are scrambling to get vaccines. Thank God, since the beginning of August  we have approached vaccine producers," Jokowi said.
"This is not an easy item to get. Therefore, vaccination must be right on target. Do not waste it," Jokowi said.
Separately, the National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo said the police would deploy around 13,500 personnel to support the vaccination program. "Currently, 900 of them have completed the training to become a vaccinator at the Health Ministry. The remainder would get the same training soon.
Jokowi said earlier that Indonesia has around 30,000 vaccinators stand ready at 10,000 community health centers and 3,000 hospitals throughout the archipelago. The President aimed to administer at least 1 million doses per day to meet the target.