Indonesia says will punish those who refuse to take Covid-19 vaccine

Bloomberg February 18 | Updated on February 18, 2021

This is an unusual move amid widespread hesitance toward the shots that were rushed in its development

Indonesia is requiring those eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine to take the shots as the country seeks ways to quicken its inoculation program to curb Southeast Asia’s largest outbreak.

The government can punish those who refuse the vaccine by stopping or delaying social assistance programs and administrative services as well as impose fines, according to a revised presidential rule. The actual form of the sanctions are left to local governments to decide.

Also read: BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine less potent against S African virus strain: study

Making the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory is an unusual move amid widespread hesitance toward the shots that were rushed in its development.

A survey last September found that about 65 per cent of Indonesians would want to get the shots, while the rest were concerned about the cost, health risks and whether the vaccine would be halal. The government has since made the vaccine free of charge.

Indonesia has administered more than 1.7 million shots in a program that started with President Joko Widodo himself receiving the first dose, a bid to bolster public confidence in the Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine. That’s a long way from the more than 180 million people that the government seeks to inoculate by the end of the year.

Also read: Private sector to have bigger role in next phase of Covid vaccinations

The country has also signed deals with other manufacturers including AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc, though those shots haven’t been shipped.

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Published on February 18, 2021
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