Preventing the Spread of COVID-19, Indonesia Vaccinates Foreign Refugees in Several Regions

Although the number of new cases, hospitalized patients and deaths due to the corona virus pandemic in Indonesia continues to decline, the government is not complacent. In the media briefing which was held in Jakarta hybrid, Tuesday (12/10), Director of Human Rights and Humanity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Achsanul Habib said the government had vaccinated the COVID-19 vaccine in hundreds of refugees in several areas.

“Last week, vaccines were also carried out for refugees (foreign nationals) in Jakarta. There are around 600 refugees who have been vaccinated. The target is a thousand refugees around Jakarta,” said Achsanul.

He added that similar vaccinations had previously been carried out on foreign refugees in Kupang, East Aceh and Pekanbaru

A health worker prepares an injection of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination at the Green Zone Tourism, Sanur, Bali, March 23, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Nyimas Laula)

A health worker prepares an injection of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination at the Green Zone Tourism, Sanur, Bali, March 23, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Nyimas Laula)

According to Achsanul, in principle the COVID-19 vaccination program for foreign refugees is carried out as part of efforts to create community immunity. In this effort, the government is collaborating with UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) and IOM (International Migration Organization) considering that refugees have a five-digit identity number that cannot be entered in the Peduli Protect application, like Indonesian citizens who have a population identification number (NIK). Whereas control of people who have been vaccinated is carried out nationally. Therefore, a discourse emerged to add the identity numbers of the refugees with the numbers 0 to even 16 digits.

“The technical connection is that we want to ensure that they (foreign refugees) can still be vaccinated without disturbing the APBN (State Revenue and Expenditure Budget). Because the APBN based on the law is for Indonesian citizens. Because they (foreign refugees) non-category foreign nationals. This means that they are still stateless, under UNHCR supervision and so on,” said Achsanul.

The Gotong Royong vaccine is one way out of vaccination for foreign refugees, which was given to refugees in Jakarta on October 7-8. The second dose of vaccination will be given later this month.

Head of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Professor Amin Subandrio, explained that overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic required the widest possible community immunity, not only in one particular country but throughout the world.

“Controlling this pandemic throughout the world, cannot be controlled by only one country. The pandemic can only be considered finished if all countries or most of the countries have been able to reduce the number of cases,” Amin said.

Regarding the Red and White vaccine, Amin said that the development of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Universitas Airlangga is claimed to be able to obtain an emergency use permit in the first or second quarter of next year. While those developed by the Eijkman Institute may be a little slower but still 2022.

Amin hopes that after being produced later, the Merah Putih vaccine can meet at least 50 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine needs in Indonesia.

He added that the maximum production capacity of Bio Farma’s vaccine could reach 250 million doses per year. He hopes that other pharmaceutical institutions can produce COVID-19 vaccines so that the total production can reach 400 million doses every year.

According to Amin, the Red and White vaccine will later be used for the third dose of vaccination or the first and second doses of vaccination for Indonesian citizens who have not received the vaccination. [fw/em]

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