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Asia Minute: Vaccines Become Mandatory in Indonesia

AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana
A health worker prepares a shot of COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination for traders and workers at Tanah Abang Market in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.

The Biden Administration is sending more COVID-19 vaccines to states. While the supply remains uncertain, here in Hawaii and around the country, the shots remain voluntary. But's no longer the case in the largest country in Southeast Asia.


Everyone in Indonesia needs to get vaccinated for the coronavirus.

That’s now the law under a policy change just coming into force, which means that anyone who turns down a vaccination can be fined, or be denied access to some public services. It’s up to local governments to decide what penalties will be imposed, but the federal government wants the vaccines to be mandatory.

Not that there are enough to go around at this point.

This week, Indonesia is moving into the next phase of a national vaccination program that got underway last month with medical workers. Next up are public officials and those who deal frequently with the public — from bus drivers to vendors at markets.

The government wants to vaccinate two-thirds of its population of more than 270-million in a little more than a year.

A government spokesman told Antara News that by the end of last week, more than a million health care workers had received their shots — about 70% of the target.

The World Health Organization does NOT recommend making vaccines mandatory, because it can add to distrust about the process.

A WHO emergency expert told Reuters that “we are much better served to present people with the data, present people with the benefits and let people make up their own minds, within reason.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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