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Jakarta residents become first in Indonesia to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

JAKARTA – Indonesia on Monday (Aug 23) began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for the first time as it races to curb a resurgence in cases caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Approved by the country’s Food and Drug Monitoring Agency on July 14, the vaccine was made available to anyone aged above 18 at four venues, including three community clinics, in Jakarta, the capital.

Last week, Indonesia received the first batch of 1.56 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, out of the 50 million it has procured. The rest will be delivered gradually throughout this year.

The country will also be receiving another 4.6 million doses from Covax, the global vaccine sharing programme backed by the World Health Organisation, in the coming weeks.

The Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at extremely low temperature, has been distributed to Jakarta and its neighbouring cities in West Java and Banten provinces – Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, South Tangerang and Bekasi, health ministry spokesman Widyawati said on Saturday. The spokesman added that this was because of the more complex logistics needed for them.

The Health Ministry’s Covid-19 vaccination spokesman, Dr Siti Nadia Tarmizi, told The Straits Times that the vaccines would be distributed in line with “the readiness” of the health agencies to receive them.

Dr Siti Nadia also said all of the country’s 34 provinces would eventually receive the vaccine, but did not say when this would happen.

Indonesia, which has been trying to stem rising Covid-19 infections and deaths with limited lockdowns since early July, has fully vaccinated 32.05 million people, or 15.2 per cent of those targeted in the population.  They have mostly received the Sinovac vaccine. In mid-July, medical workers began receiving booster shots of the Moderna vaccine.

Nearly 45 per cent of Jakarta’s population or 4.85 million people have been fully vaccinated. The city’s deputy governor, Ahmad Riza Patria, said on Sunday that 11 million people, including non-residents, would have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccine regimen in the next few weeks.

The deputy governor described the capital as a “green zone”, or a low-risk one for Covid-19 amid a decline in the number of patients and the acceleration of its vaccination programme.

Based on statistics from the city, the number of active cases as at Sunday was 8,531, down 233 from a day earlier. It reported 485 new cases on Monday, far fewer than the 14,619 recorded on July 12.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous nation, which has struggled with record infections and cases, reported 3.99 million infections and 127,214 deaths as at Monday.

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