Jakarta. Indonesians had a skeptical attitude toward China’s Sinovac vaccine even when it was their sole choice in the beginning, but the demand for it has been growing rapidly in recent months when alternatives from more famous western pharmacists are available.
The demand is so big it puts a brake on the government’s nationwide vaccination drive against Covid-19, a Health Ministry spokeswoman said recently.
The pace of inoculation has been slowing down in the last two weeks because many districts and provinces refused to use vaccines other than Sinovac.
“Many regional governments prefer to wait for deliveries of Sinovac vaccine,” Siti Nadia Tarmizi said.
Problems arise because in the second half of the year the government began to introduce other brands to diversify sources and ensure adequate supplies for 208 million people of the target population.
She couldn’t explain exactly why people suddenly become so picky about which vaccine they choose but admitted that there were complaints about adverse effects from other brands.
The government will continue diversifying supplies and reducing Sinovac doses despite the current public preference, she said.
"According to the existing plan and considering the availability of supplies at the producer side, our current stockpiles are shifting away from Sinovac. We will not cancel the procurement of other vaccine brands," Siti said.
“Our roadmap says that in the second half of the year a bigger amount of supplies should comprise AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Novovak.”
She said the government is appealing for local authorities and unvaccinated people to receive whichever brand is available, stressing that “the best vaccine is the one available for grab”.
“Supplies are limited and we even cannot spare for a new group the target population, namely children aged six or above. People should not delay receiving the shot because of brand choices,” Siti said.
The Sinovac vaccine, known as CoronaVac, is indeed the dominant brand being used since the country began the vaccination drive on January 13.
Of 235.6 million doses administered between January and October, 186 million are Sinovac, according to Health Ministry data. The figures include 121 million Sinovac doses manufactured locally by state-run pharmaceutical company Bio Farma under license from the Chinese company.
More than 142 million Indonesians have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as of Saturday, with 98 million already fully vaccinated.