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Vaccine program for children in Indonesia ramps up

Updated: 2022-01-07 09:20 ( China Daily )
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JAKARTA-In a primary school in the eastern part of Indonesia's capital Jakarta, 6-year-old Dedi Permadi recently got his first COVID-19 jab.

Despite being afraid of needles, Dedi knew that the vaccination would help him to fight COVID-19. The school was decorated with stickers of cartoon superheroes to encourage kids to get injected. Students and parents listened to teachers explain the importance of vaccination.

"Many children are afraid of getting injections because they are scared of the pain," Nurliza Yanti, one of the schoolteachers, says. "Some of them were crying afterward, so we asked their parents to comfort them."

Indonesia, home to 270 million people, has been vaccinating children aged 6 to 11 since last month, with a plan to vaccinate 27 million with Sinovac, the only vaccine currently used for children in the archipelago, according to the country's drug and food agency.

By the end of last month, at least 540,000 children in the age group had been vaccinated, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin says.

He has since called on the public to immediately get their vaccinations to prevent the spread of the pandemic. The country's second wave, triggered by the Delta variant, peaked at over 50,000 cases in July. Daily cases have come down significantly since then, but the country is still facing the COVID-19 threat.

Indonesia started its mass COVID-19 vaccinations last January when authorities approved the Sinovac vaccine. By the end of last month, Indonesia had registered 4.3 million cases, with more than 144,000 deaths since March last year.

Authorities are accelerating vaccination programs. To date, more than 152 million people have received their first doses, while over 107 million have had second doses.

After his jab, Dedi received a medal and a gift pack containing masks, modeling clay and chocolates as reward for his bravery. "Now, I can fight COVID-19!" he says.


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