Logistics, Staff Shortage Hurt Indonesia’s Shot Progress
(Bloomberg) -- A shortage of healthcare workers and logistical flaws are hampering Indonesia’s efforts to inoculate its people against Covid-19, leaving the world’s largest archipelago trailing its neighbors despite being among the first in Southeast Asia to start the program.
Only 17.9% of Indonesia’s 270 million people are fully vaccinated, behind almost every major economy in the region, according to Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. About 32% have received their first dose, placing the nation among the bottom four on the list.
“Supply at the national level is no longer an issue, getting shots into the arms of the people is,” said Griffith University epidemiologist Dicky Budiman, who is assisting the government in improving vaccination coverage. “Even in East Java, where there is sufficient stock, there aren’t enough vaccination booths and not enough vaccinators on site to deliver the shots.”
The slow inoculation progress risks Indonesia’s efforts to keep the pandemic under control and sustain the fragile recovery of its $1.1 trillion economy. A new outbreak caused by the more contagious delta variant forced the government to reimpose its strictest mobility curbs at the start of the third quarter, with the restrictions helping bring down its weekly death count to the lowest since mid-April.
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The nation is slowly building up its Covid-19 vaccine stocks after a shaky start earlier this year, and has so far received 273.6 million doses, some in the form of bulk that needs further processing, the information ministry said in a statement Friday. The government targets inoculating 208 million people across the country.
The administration is setting up more vaccination centers with help from the police, army and intelligence personnel, educating those who are still hesitant and improving data tracking via an app, Covid-19 taskforce spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said in an interview on Thursday. With an aim of administering more than 1 million shots a day, the government expects to reach 70% coverage before the end of the year.
President Joko Widodo’s approval rating has continued to decline since 2019 but is still above the optimistic level of 50. His latest rating is 58%, according to a survey by Indikator Politik in September. That has slipped from 59 in July, driven down by the impact of Covid restrictions on the lower-middle class, who have been deprived of the opportunity to earn an income.
The poll of 1,200 respondents across the nation on Sept. 17 to 21 showed about 44.2% of respondents considered the economic situation to be “bad,” compared with 52.5% and 49.5% in July and April, respectively.
Despite the improvement, “the government should be very careful, as the poor assessment on the current economic situation came from the lower-middle class and informal sector,” Burhanuddin Muhtadi, an executive director at the survey institute, said.
Responding to the survey, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia said the result may reflect the situation on the ground as micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, as one of the economy’s backbones, have been affected by the outbreak. Lahadalia estimated growth will rise in the range of 4% to 4.3% this year.
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