Thousands sign petition urging Jokowi to cancel private vaccination program

CNN Indonesia – July 12, 2021
President Widodo receives first Covid-19 vaccine shot – January 13, 2021 (Biro Setpres)

Jakarta – University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono along with several other colleagues from the Vaccine for All Coalition is garnering support from the public through an online petition urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to immediately stop the private vaccination program.

Riono is gathering public support for the petition through the website. As well as Riono, two other academics, Irma Handayani and Sulfikar Amir also initiated the petition.

"Yes, that's correct. Along with the Vaccine for All Coalition. We're targeting 1 million signatures if we can", Riono told CNN Indonesia on Monday July 12.

As of 6.40 am Monday, the petition had garnered more than 7,600 signatures out of a target of 10,000.

Riono believes that allowing a private vaccination program will in fact create high levels of inequality and could prolong the pandemic.

"Even according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), vaccination programs carried out by the private sector only benefit and prioritise the upper- and middle-class economic strata in urban centres", wrote Riono in the petition.

Riono believes that middle- and lower-class communities in the regions should be the priority for vaccination distribution because they have a high risk of being infected. Moreover, the vaccine supply is very limited.

Riono also said that health workers in the regions are also anxious about getting vaccinated quickly.

"Because distribution in the regions is still a problem. The Pak [Mr] Health Minister himself said that not all regions have sufficient storage facilities to accommodate Covid-19 vaccines", said Riono.

Riono also criticised a statement by the government and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) which equivocated that the private vaccination scheme would help the government accelerate herd immunity in Indonesia.

According to Riono, the statement cannot be justified because private vaccinations provide access to vaccines based on economic capacity and affiliation with private corporations.

He also believes that the statement conflicts with recommendations by the WHO, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and global agreements.

These organisations have stated that all efforts to control the pandemic, including vaccinations, must be done by respecting the general public's right to fair and just access to vaccines.

"We are also asking, if private vaccinations are organised, will there be a guarantee that this program will assist the free vaccination program as a whole? How can we quickly achieve herd immunity for society as a whole", asked Riono.

Looking at this problem, Riono is asking President Widodo, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir to cancel the private vaccination program.

He hopes that the private sector will instead be invited to assist in distributing the vaccine, not conduct private vaccinations.

"Every person in Indonesia, both those who work and those who don't work have the right to get the vaccine provided by the government", he said.

As has been reported, the price under private gotong royong vaccination program for individuals has been set at 321,660 rupiah per dose with a maximum administrative fee of 117,910 per dose.

The government claims that these services are in accordance with Health Ministry Regulation Number 19/2021 on Implementing Vaccination in the Framework of Tackling the Covid-19 Pandemic. (rzr/gil)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ribuan Teken Petisi Minta Jokowi Batalkan Vaksinasi Mandiri".]