Indonesia on Monday began a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for elderly health workers as the country’s drugs regulator-approved China’s Sinovac vaccine for use in people aged 60 and above.

The Health Ministry said 15 doctors aged 60 and above received their first dose of the vaccine at the Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo National Central Public Hospital in Jakarta.

In a statement, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the ministry’s spokeswoman for vaccination, said the ministry aims to inoculate 11,600 elderly health workers during the campaign.

She expressed hope the vaccination will help reduce the high mortality and morbidity rates in the elderly, particularly among the medical staff.

According to the Indonesian COVID-19 Task Force, 47.3% of over 31,000 people who died of the virus were patients aged 60 years or above.

Earlier, the country issued an emergency use authorization for the Sinovac vaccine for the elderly people after evaluating data from the second phase clinical trial in China and the third phase in Brazil.

The results of a clinical trial in China involving 400 elderly people showed 97.96% immunogenicity.

Meanwhile, the third phase clinical trial in Brazil involving 600 elderly people has shown safe results and no serious third-degree side effects, with only mild symptoms, including pain, nausea, fever, swelling, headache, and skin redness.

The country’s drug regulatory agency recommended that vaccination for people over 70 years must undergo a screening phase considering their comorbidities.

Indonesia, recording over 1.1 million coronavirus infections and more than 31,000 fatalities to date, started its vaccine rollout on Jan. 13, with the president being the first recipient.

Jakarta aims to begin a nationwide vaccination drive by mid-February after the inoculation of the vaccine to some 1.4 million health workers is completed.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian-language services in Jakarta.​​​​​​​

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