Indonesia Considers Paid Covid-19 Vaccines as Pandemic Transitions to Endemic Phase

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The Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia is showing a consistent decline in cases, but the government remains committed to accelerating the vaccination program. The Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) recently disclosed that the concept of paid Covid-19 vaccines is still under discussion.

According to Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the Head of Communication and Services Bureau at the Ministry of Health, “We are awaiting the plans for paid vaccines, which are currently being discussed and evaluated” (Wednesday, June 14, 2023).

Nadia further explained that they aspire to finalize the assessment regarding changes in the distribution mechanism of Covid-19 vaccines before the pandemic transitions into an endemic phase. This proactive approach aims to implement a new vaccine delivery scheme once President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) officially declares the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The notion of paid vaccines was initially introduced by Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who asserted that Covid-19 vaccines will no longer be freely available once Indonesia enters the endemic phase of the virus. In his statement, Budi emphasized that individuals who are not eligible for the premium assistance program (PBI) would be required to pay Rp100,000 for a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Budi elaborated, “Once the transition from pandemic to endemic is complete, considering the vaccine’s price is below Rp100,000, excluding additional charges, individuals should be able to independently cover this cost every six months” (quoted on Wednesday, June 14, 2023).

Furthermore, the former Deputy Minister of State-Owned Enterprises highlighted that the plan to introduce paid vaccines is one of the government’s endeavors to enhance public awareness regarding the significance of Covid-19 vaccination, even after the pandemic subsides. He underscored that this initiative is not an opportunity for the government to commercialize the Covid-19 vaccine.

“It is crucial to understand that this is not about commercialization. As we transition from a pandemic to an endemic situation, the primary focus should be on reducing government intervention and increasing public participation, including in vaccination,” he emphasized.

Should the implementation of a paid vaccine scheme materialize in Indonesia, individuals will have the option to independently purchase vaccines through pharmacies, community health centers, and hospitals. However, it is essential to note that the actual administration of vaccines will only take place at the nearest community health centers or hospitals.

As previously disclosed, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has acknowledged the imminent announcement of the transition from the pandemic to the endemic phase in Indonesia. The President stated that the decision is currently under careful examination and will be finalized within the forthcoming 1-2 weeks.