COVID-19 Stories: Indonesia Vaccination Programme

Osa Rafshodia Rafidin (Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, 2016) is Head of the Department of Disease Control and Prevention at the Health City Office of Samarinda in East Borneo, Indonesia. At the beginning of this year, he shared his COVID-19 story. Here, he discusses the COVID-19 vaccination process in Indonesia.
Osa Rafshodia Rafidin

“In February 2021, Indonesia, along with other nations, received the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. With a 10.8% rate of active cases and an 86.4% cure rate at the national level, Indonesia still has to fight off finding new cases as well as maintaining strategic vaccine distribution.

“Borneo is one of Indonesia’s biggest islands, with 17.508 officially listed islands within its territory. Vaccine distribution is challenging due to the archipelago setting and having to maintain a cold chain system to ensure the quality of vaccine is optimal.

“Samarinda, the capital city of the East Borneo province, is a two-hour flight from the national capital, Jakarta, and is one of the prioritised cities to receive the vaccine. Since February 2021, the city has vaccinated 100% of its health workers. Elderly and senior citizens and public servants are to be vaccinated in early March 2021. This second phase of the vaccination programme in Samarinda means that the health city office has to try and vaccinate these two groups with different strategies.  Elderly and senior citizens who can access their primary health facility can go there to receive their vaccination, while elderly and senior citizens with accessibility issues require the mobile vaccination team to reach them in a coordinated setting. For public servants, the vaccination programme is based on their institution. This is to ensure that all members of the institution receive the vaccine and that they arrange the vaccine quota if an institution member doesn’t meet certain criteria. The police and armed forces stationed in Samarinda city are also being prioritised due to their role in monitoring the health protocol in the community.


“When individuals get their vaccine, everyone has a blood sugar test at the screening table. Then if necessary, the doctor can refer them for an HbA1c test for further diagnostic. The elderly/senior citizens are also tested for their total cholesterol.

“Many people are enthusiast to get their COVID-19 vaccine. On 5 March 2021, five days after the second phase of vaccination started, 1,487 (2.2%) public servants and 1,756 (2.86%) elderly/senior citizens had been vaccinated in Samarinda city. 

“In some circumstances, the health city office have tried to apply a vaccine quota due to a vaccine delivery phase from the central government. This is to ensure that all people could access the vaccine without delay, as the cold chain and other quality assurances of vaccines are one of the biggest policy concerns.

“As an LSHTM alumnus, I could access valuable information about many kinds of COVID-19 vaccines from other alumni across the globe. Since Indonesia is receiving the Sinovac Vaccine, I talked with alumni about other vaccines like Phizer Bio-NTech Vaccine, Moderna Vaccine, J&J Vaccine. These are very valuable resources, regarding managements and delivery strategies of vaccines.”

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