People are advised to book their appointment for a third vaccine dose through the Peduli Lindungi app prior to visiting the nearest health facility, in order to reduce waiting times and avoid crowds.
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The Covid-19 booster vaccination program for the elderly began at the Puskemas (community health center) in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta, at 9 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday (12/1/2022). But Ratna (68) had arrived much earlier, at 8:15 a.m. The Kramat Jati resident did not want to miss this invaluable opportunity to get her booster dose.
Ratna said that she had come on the advice of the district administration as well as on the invitation she had received through PeduliLindungi, the official Covid-19 tracking application. Ratna, who had received the Sinovac vaccine for her first and second doses, got a half dose of the Pfizer vaccine as a booster.
"It doesn’t matter what the vaccine [brand] is called, the most important thing is to be healthy," she said.
Ratna and other elderly residents seemed enthusiastic about taking part in the booster vaccination program, which the government is providing free of charge for eligible recipients. They stood in an orderly queue leading to a makeshift tent that had been installed in the yard of Puskesmas Kramat Jati. A number of tables and chairs had been arranged for screening the health of the elderly, who were required to follow the health protocols during the vaccination process.
Inda Mutiara, the head of Puskesmas Kramat Jati, said that the table and chairs had long been arranged for the regular Covid-19 vaccination drive, which usually opened at 8 a.m. The booster vaccination program began at 9 a.m.
“Today, we are giving the regular vaccine [program] at 8 a.m. and the booster doses at 9 a.m. However, because some people arrived earlier, we began [the boosters] at 8:30 a.m.,” said Inda.
Puskesmas Kramat Jati had formed two to three teams of its health workers to administer the booster doses. The teams only give the boosters to elderly residents who had met the criteria, specifically that they had received their first and second vaccine doses six months ago at the earliest. They should also be fully vaccinated to be eligible for a booster dose.
Kramat Jati district has fully vaccinated 81 percent of its elderly population of around 20,500 people have been. People aged 18 years and above who are at high risk of severe illness from Covid-19 are also eligible to get a booster dose, but they must first pass the health screening.
"Today [Wednesday], the quota is 150 [booster recipients], the majority of who are elderly people. We have readied the vaccine supply according to the number of [eligible] recipients,” said Puskesmas head Inda.
Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, the disease prevention and control director general at the Health Ministry, made assurances that the government had enough vaccine supplies to give booster doses to eligible recipients.
"At present, we still have almost 130 million doses. The [vaccine] was prepared by Biofarma," Maxi said during the launch of the Kramat Jati booster vaccine rollout.
Meanwhile, Jakarta Health Office head Widyastuti said that all health facilities under the management of the Jakarta provincial administration, from Puskesmas to regional public hospitals, were ready to roll out the booster vaccination program. The health office was also working in cooperation with the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police (Polri) to accelerate the booster vaccination program.
"[The booster dose] doesn't have to given at the same health facility as the first and second vaccine doses,” Widyastuti said in a written statement.
“Residents can get their booster dose at another health facility by showing a registration ticket for their third jab or a booster vaccination ticket obtained through the PeduliLindungi application."
Non-residents also eligible
The Health Ministry plans to gradually update the online registration for the booster dose. People are advised to book their appointment for a third vaccine dose through the Peduli Lindungi app prior to visiting the nearest health facility, in order to reduce waiting times and avoid crowds.
Widyastuti also underlined that the booster dose was available for both Jakarta residents and non-residents. Non-residents in Jakarta were not required to present a Surat Keterangan Domisili (letter of domicile) to get their booster dose.
"The type of vaccine depends on the vaccines available at the Puskesmas, and the vaccine combination for the booster dose is based on guidance from the Health Ministry," she added.
People who had received the Sinovac vaccine for their first and second doses will receive half a dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines for their booster. Meanwhile, people who had received AstraZeneca for their first and second doses will get a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine for their booster.
This article was translated by Hendarsyah Tarmizi.