Getting COVID-19 vaccinated in Indonesia – how it worked for me

With Indonesia the current epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s vaccination program has become even more imperative for national and global health. Another 45 million doses of several different types of vaccine are due to arrive in August, in a country which aims to provide protection to more than 208 million people. The Government most recently lowered the age limit for eligibility for vaccination to 12 years of age.

This week I joined hundreds of thousands of others who received their jabs. Interestingly when I went for my first jab last month officials thought I was ineligible despite me having registered successfully with the Ministry of Health website and then received a reply noting when and where I should go. There was also an issue as to whether I was too young – a refreshing but all too rare event for me these days – to get the vaccination. The government had actually lowered the range of ages eligible for vaccination from 60 to 50 years a few days before I was able to secure an appointment. It was this lowering of the age limit that allowed me to register. Finally the head of the centre saw my credentials – both the downloaded statement from the Ministry as well as my “green card” and ID card indicating I am a local resident in Jakarta. After this he confirmed that I was eligible. From there it was all smooth sailing from there through to obtaining the second jab a month later. (For those interested this is a way to register for a Covid-19 vaccination).

It should also be noted there were no costs involved in becoming fully vaccinated other than the transport costs of getting to and from the vaccination centre. So a big thank you from me to my fellow taxpayers of Indonesia!

For me it was the second dose of the Chinese-formulated Sinovac. On that day another 233 thousand others across the archipelago were getting their second shot in the arm. And this was in addition to the 258 thousand who received their first jab.

To date a total of 44.7 million have obtained a first shot of vaccine while 18.1 million have had their second.

I received both jabs at the Ministry of Health training centre near which has been re-fitted to operate as a vaccination centre, located near Blok M, a well-known retail suburb in South Jakarta.

The vaccination system is very efficient. I was sent an online statement of my first vaccination and a follow up reminder to receive the second jab on a specific day.

On arrival, after showing the ushers my first certificate and the reminder to attend as proof that I was a bona fide visitor for a vax, I was registered and given a waiting number. I stepped inside the big air conditioned tent I waited for my number to be called

With 698 people served by mid-morning I did not have to wait for more than 10 minutes until my number of 731 was called. Each day around 1,500 vaccinations are processed at this centre.

After my number was called the next step was to head to the medical team which would serve me.

The process here begins with a check of identity and of the type of vaccine to be used. Then they check blood pressure. Some people get nervous and this affects their blood pressure. I was pretty chill so no change from my usual and surprisingly good blood pressure rate.

The teams of staff are at different tables and at the final table of each group is the person who delivers the vaccination. The actual process of vaccinating itself was over so fast I barely had time to strike a pose.

After receiving their vaccinations, patients go to register and receive their certificate and also rest a few minutes to make sure there are no sudden side effects.

No problems here, so I am soon on my way out of the big tent!

Outside a cardboard cutout of the President is among several others available from which to take a ubiquitous selfie.

All up this was a very smooth and efficient process despite the number of people involved. Everyone was masked and many of the staff and many of the visitors were double masked.

The atmosphere among those in and around the centre was one of orderly and quiet determination to get this done. Elsewhere there have been growing frustrations especially among those whose livelihood depends on securing income on a day to day basis from the informal sector. The decision by the government announced on the evening of 25 July to ease some of the restrictions, which have constrained those people working in these micro-enterprises, may ameliorate some of their immediate frustrations.

Even so after the vaccination it was a faster than usual trip home on my trusty Gojek as the current tight restrictions on personal movements have significantly thinned the city’s notorious traffic.

Indonesia’s current challenges with COVID-19 are well known, so I thought it would be good to show another side of how Indonesia is handling the current situation. The most recent trends in daily caseload hint tentatively that the country may have passed the peak of almost 57 thousand cases reached on 15 July.

Picture of Kevin Evans

Indonesia Director
The Australia-Indonesia Centre

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