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Fears of Omicron spreading have prompted Indonesia to begin with booster doses

A woman receives a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, as the country starts the booster vaccination program for the general public amid the rise of the Omicron variant in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

On Wednesday, Indonesia launched its COVID-19 booster programme for the general public, as the world’s fourth-most-populous nation saw a nearly three-month peak in cases due to the emergence of the Omicron variety.

The news: Residents who are being prioritised in the initiative, the elderly and immunocompromised, queued up at local health centres to improve their defences against a virus that has infected more than 4 million Indonesians.

  • Concerns regarding the spread of the Omicron form have been raised in Indonesia, a heavily populated developing country that was hit by a catastrophic Delta wave in July.
  • Indonesia registered 802 new cases on Tuesday, the highest number in over three months, with senior cabinet minister Luhut Panjaitan predicting a peak in February.
  • After early discussions about charging for boosters generated controversy, President Joko Widodo stated Tuesday that all those qualifying will receive free boosters.
  • The booster campaign, for which vaccines from Sinovac, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, and Zifivax have been approved, is taking place in tandem with the primary COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
A medical worker performs a health screening on a woman who will receive a booster vaccine dose against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as the country starts the booster vaccination program for the general public amid the rises of the Omicron variant in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Facts and figures: Indonesia has vowed to vaccinate more than 208 million of its 270 million people, but according to health ministry figures, only about 56 per cent of that target group has received two COVID-19 vaccine doses thus far.

  • Vaccine scepticism and logistics in the vast archipelago, according to experts, have hindered distribution.

According to Indonesian health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, booster shots will be given in half-doses, based on research that show that dosage is effective.

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