Indonesia has decided to offer free Covid-19 vaccines to people after considering the state budget, said President Joko Widodo.
Jokowi, as he’s commonly known, has ordered the finance minister to reallocate spending from other matters to fund the free vaccines, he said in a cabinet secretariat statement. He will also be the first to be inoculated as a way to show people that the shots are safe.
“So there is no longer any reason for people not to get it,” he said.
It’s unclear how much the program will cost and which of the vaccines ordered by the country, which include China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Novavax Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, would be covered. A shipment of 1.2 million doses from Sinovac arrived in Jakarta this month and is being evaluated by the local drug regulator before the government can start what’s set to be Southeast Asia’s earliest vaccination program.
The country that’s home to the world’s fourth-largest population previously laid out a plan to pay for nearly 74 million doses through its national health coverage, while the rest of its 270 million people would have to shoulder the cost themselves. The expense is a key concern for Indonesians, with only one-third of those who want to be vaccinated against the virus saying they would be willing to pay for the shots, according to a government survey in September.