Public education and awareness programs are key for making the vaccination program successful, chair of West Java's COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPC-PEN), Setiawan Wangsaatmaja, said here on Wednesday.
To achieve this, public education and awareness campaigns need to be optimally conducted to obtain the West Java residents' support and participation in the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination program, he added.
“We must convince our people,” he told participants at a meeting of the West Java COVID-19 Response Task Force's communication division.
Wangsaatmaja said the local authorities have prepared 1,087 public health centers and vaccine storage facilities for the upcoming vaccination program.
To prepare for the first phase of the COVID-19 immunization program, scheduled in the third week of December, 2020, President Joko Widodo earlier instructed ministries and agencies to conduct nationwide vaccine simulations.
In connection with the vaccination program, deputy chair of the COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPC-PEN), Erick Thohir, said the government will soon decide whether COVID-19 red zones would be prioritized under the program.
"Let us wait for the government's decision (which is expected) within one or two days. There will be a meeting with governors, mayors, and district heads for talks about whether we should prioritize red zones with high infection and mortality rates," he elaborated.
Speaking at a webinar themed "preparing infrastructure for COVID-19 vaccination data" on Tuesday, Thohir said, in keeping with Presidential Regulation No.99/2020, the government has set a preliminary target of vaccinating those aged between 18 and 59 years.
He also appealed to citizens to participate actively in the government's COVID-19 vaccination program. Research has revealed that 66 percent of Indonesians are keen to get vaccinated, while 16 percent are reluctant to join the vaccination program, he noted.
"I do not know the reasons of those refusing to get vaccinated. Regarding the issues of halal or haram, we have let the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) to resolve this matter," he said.
Indonesia has been striving to win the fight against the novel coronavirus disease, which initially emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 and then spread worldwide, including to nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Indonesia officially announced its first infections on March 2 this year.
The Indonesian government has consistently expressed confidence in the potential of the COVID-19 vaccine for helping win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed a grave threat to public health and the economy.
Over the past few months, the government has been working to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines for Indonesians through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
The government is also supporting research efforts towards developing the country's own COVID-19 vaccine, Merah Putih (Red and White), named after the colors of the national flag.
In addition, Indonesia is cooperating with China and the United Kingdom for the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines. (INE)
Related news: Follow health protocols during COVID-19 vaccination program: LIPI
Related news: Decision on vaccine priority for red zones expected soon: Thohir
EDITED BY INE