– Indonesian authorities are calling on people over the age of 60 who received their first booster shot against COVID-19 more than six months ago to immediately receive their second booster dose amid a new wave of infections.
The increase in new COVID cases is being driven by the worrying new variant of COVID-19 known as XBB, which is behind large numbers of infections in some Asian countries and has made up an increasing part of reported virus sequences in worldwide and in arriving international travelers.
The emergence of XBB in Indonesia was announced by the country’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin in October.
Since the beginning of November, the health authorities of the Southeast Asian country have registered more than 3,000 cases a day amid the emergence of XBB.
On Wednesday, authorities confirmed 5,609 new cases with more than 59,000 active cases in the last 24 hours. Active cases mean those people are still considered infectious.
Sadikin recently said that his office had conducted in-depth observation and that the current wave of COVID-19 cases will likely peak in December.
Last week, Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest population, authorized the second booster vaccine against COVID-19 for older adults. The country’s president, Joko Widodo, 61, received his second booster dose last Thursday.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Mohammad Syahril, has said that the second booster dose campaign is prioritized for the age group as they are more vulnerable to infection.
“The government wants to make sure that the elderly are really protected from the severe effects of COVID-19,” he told local media on Tuesday.
At the moment, the government does not plan to introduce new restrictive measures, but strongly recommends vaccination.
In August, the government began campaigning for the launch of the second booster dose for health workers in the country. To date, more than 700,000 medical workers have received their doses.
About 66 million people in the country had received their first booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday, while nearly 800,000 people received their second booster dose.
Indonesia began mass vaccinations against COVID-19 in January last year after the government approved the emergency use of China‘s Sinovac vaccine, with the goal of fully vaccinating 234 million people. ■