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The Indonesian government policy to exclude the elderly (aged 60 years and above) in the first phase of the free COVID-19 vaccination program could hinder the vaccine’s impact in lowering mortality rates.

As of 13 January 2021, the government prioritises early-stage vaccination for health workers, civil servants, and citizens aged 18-59 years old. The CoronaVac vaccines from Chinese company Sinovac will not be used to vaccinate elderly citizens aged 60 years old and above.

Considering the enormous COVID-19 mortality rates in Indonesia, the highest in Southeast Asia, which are dominated by those in the 60 years and above age bracket (45% of the total confirmed deaths from COVID-19), this policy is problematic.

In addition, this policy is inconsistent with the technical guide regarding vaccine recipient prioritisation issued by the government on 4 January 2021. This guide also incorporates the technical recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) to prioritise health workers in the first phase of vaccination, and then civil servants and those aged 60 and above in the second phase (estimated to be January-April 2021).

Read the full article on The Conversation website, co-written by Kartika Saraswati (Centre for Tropical Medicine & Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine).

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