The Indonesian government is making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for those who are eligible, with the country aiming to inoculate 181.5 million of its 270 million population within the next 15 months. Nearly 34,000 Indonesians have died from the coronavirus up till this point, and the government announced a presidential order earlier this month which states that those who refuse COVID-19 vaccinations can be denied social aid and government services.
Those who refuse vaccines can also be subject to fines—which will be determined by regional and local authorities. Meanwhile, the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, has confirmed that fines of up to IDR 5 million (~RM1,443) will be imposed upon eligible residents who do not take the vaccine. According to Deputy Jakarta governor, Ahmad Riza Patria:
“If you reject it, there are two things, social aid will not be given, (and a) fine.”
However, Patria also said that the fines and punishments would be a last resort in the capital city of Indonesia—from which a quarter of the country’s COVID-19 positive cases have been reported. Throughout the country, over 1.7 million vaccinations have reportedly been administered, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first dose.
However, it appears that a harder approach has been chosen by the authorities. Back in December, a survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting in the country revealed that only 37 percent of respondents were open to the vaccine; 40 percent weren’t sure, and 17 percent did not want to be vaccinated. However, the enforcement of the vaccination has been argued to be a “clear violation of human rights”, with an Amnesty International Indonesia director saying that criminal penalties are not the answer.
On the other hand, health authorities and West Java and West Nusa Tenggara have reportedly stated that they will not enforce the sanctions. Public scepticism on the COVID-19 vaccine main centre around its safety and effectiveness—while there have also been questions raised about the halal status of the vaccine.
According to Indonesia Health Ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi:
“Sanctions are our last effort to encourage people’s participation. The target of 181.5 million people is huge.”