As the government seeks the best way to roll up the national COVID-19 vaccination program as soon as possible, an expert has reminded the authorities to plan cautiously to carry out a successful drive.
Indonesia is planning to run its vaccination program in the early months of next year. The government has ordered around 143 million doses of a vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech in various forms, from ready-to-administer doses to vaccine bulks, with a total of 1.2 million doses of the vaccine arriving in the country earlier this month.
The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), however, has yet to approve the Sinovac vaccine’s distribution, saying that it would extend the monitoring stage of the trials for another three months to determine the vaccine’s efficacy and side effects.
“A pandemic can turn into an endemic as long as [a country] is able to well prepare the vaccination program in order to keep the disease under control,” epidemiologist Dicky Budiman said as quoted by kompas.com on Dec. 19.
However, he said organizing the vaccination drive might not be an easy task as several factors could potentially hinder its success.
The first one, Dicky went on to say, was the potential for another pandemic in the future. An undetected virus that resides inside a body might reactivate in the future, for example.
“Furthermore, animals could contract COVID-19 from humans and spread it to other animals and humans as well.”
Dicky also reminded the government to prepare a preventive measure against anti-vaxxers who would likely create misleading narratives to discourage the public from supporting the vaccination program. A strong communication strategy, he added, was highly advised to anticipate such groups.
Moreover, the public is still taking the pandemic lightly because of hoaxes and misinformation that have been widely circulating on the internet. He believes this situation would lead to public distrust, which could threaten the vaccination program’s success.
“[Such false claims] would make it harder for some of our people to accept the vaccine,” he said.
Nevertheless, Dicky emphasized that the COVID-19 would not immediately cease once the government rolls out the vaccines, especially as Indonesia was still recording over 6,000 daily new cases. He suspected that had the tracing process been conducted properly, the number of daily new cases would have reached 20,000, he added.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo previously said on Dec. 16 that the COVID-19 vaccine would be available at no cost for the public, following criticism against the government’s plans to fund the vaccination of only a third of the targeted population.
As of now, Jokowi has yet to provide further details regarding the program’s timeline, as well as when the vaccines would be released to the public. (dpk)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.