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Opinion: Indonesia’s Unorthodox Vaccination Strategy Puts the Economy First

January 31, 2021, 02.59 PM - By vaccinating productive age group before the elderly, the Indonesian government hopes economic growth will save lives, DW's Vidi Legowo-Zipperer writes.

In Germany, a 101-year-old nursing home resident was the first person to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. In the UK, it was a 90-year-old pensioner, and Canada's first recipient was 89.

In Indonesia, however, my 92-year-old grandmother will probably be last in line.

Also readJokowi Receives Second Covid-19 Vaccine Dose

In December, Indonesia's government announced that its vaccine plan would prioritize frontline medical staff and public sector workers, therefore targeting the workforce aged between 18 and 59 years. Vaccinations for older people will come later.

A month later, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, was the first in Indonesia to receive a Covid-19 vaccine shot. At 59 years old, he had just made the cut. Vice president Ma'ruf Amin, 77, is considered too old for an early dose.

Young before the old?

Indonesia's plan soon raised questions around the world, as it was the opposite of what many other countries were doing. The answer often heard is that health officials are concerned about how the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac, will affect older recipients.

The late-stage trial in Indonesia did not include participants over the age of 60.

Officials also said that vaccinating younger people first will help Indonesia reach herd immunity quickly. More than 70 percent of Indonesia's population of 270 million is between 15 and 64 years old.

Growth at all costs?

But is herd immunity the real reason behind Indonesia's unorthodox vaccination plan?

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Health's Covid-19 vaccination program, told DW that younger people have the highest infection rate, albeit combined with a very low mortality rate.

Indonesians over 60 years old represent a small percentage of the population but account for around 46 percent of Covid-19 deaths.

Also read15 Million Doses of Covid-19 Bulk Vaccine Arrive in Indonesia


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