The Jakarta Globe reports that the Indonesian Government is preparing to make COVID-19 vaccinations available to people over the age of 60 – a group most at risk of infection but heretofore banned from receiving immunization.
The policy change comes after the Indonesian Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM), which monitors and supervises drug and pharmaceuticals, formally declared that CoronaVac – the vaccine made in China by Sinovac Biotech is suitable for “emergency use” among the elderly.
To date, Indonesia has imported over 29 million dosages of the Sinovac vaccine. The Government has prioritized injections for 1.63 million medical workers, a goal that is slated for completion by the end of February 2021.
Exercising a high degree of caution, until the recent change of policy, BPOM only authorized CoronaVac shots for people between 18 and 59. Further clinical trials carried out in three phases and performed abroad have persuaded medical officials that the vaccine can be safely and confidently administered to those over 60.
Indonesian Minister for Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said on Sunday, “We are grateful that BPOM has cleared [CoronaVac] for people above 60 years old.”
At the top of the list of those who will get coronavirus vaccination are medical workers over the age of 60 – a group most vulnerable to infection.
Because of the higher incidence of co-morbidity conditions among the older population, Indonesian health officials will proceed with great caution in distributing CoronaVac to older patients.
Because of the risk faced by older people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, screening and post-inoculation monitoring for adverse effects following immunization (AEFI) will form a critical part of the next phase in mass vaccine administration.
By immunizing the elderly, Indonesia hopes to reduce the burden on Indonesian hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, many of them over 60. While people over 60 constitute only 10% of the 1.1 million Indonesians infected by COVID-19, as a group, 47.3% of those over 60 years of age, once infected, do not survive.