JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia will start administering COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged between 6-11 on Tuesday, a health ministry official said, as the Southeast Asian country becomes one of the first in the region to immunise the very young.
Indonesia approved China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the age group last month and about 26.5 million children have been targeted for vaccination, Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, a senior health ministry official, told a briefing.
The Sinovac vaccine is the only shot approved for children in Indonesia and Maxi said from next year authorities would restrict its use only for this age group.
“This is being done to accelerate vaccinating everyone in Indonesia…we’re strengthening herd immunity,” Maxi said in comments made on Sunday, noting vaccinations of 6-11 year olds will start in the Greater Jakarta area.
Indonesia has reported more than 4.2 million coronavirus infections with cases among those aged 0-18 in Indonesia making up 13% of total infections, government data shows.
In Asia, China has already started vaccinating children aged three and above, while Cambodia admistered its first vaccines for children aged 6-12 in September. Singapore said last week it would start vaccinating children aged 5-to-11 before the end of this year.
Indonesia has suffered one of Asia’s most serious outbreaks of COVID-19, but in recent months infections have plummeted, with a daily average of about 400 last month compared to about 40,000 in July.
The country has fully vaccinated about 38% of its total population of 270 million people.
Indonesia also uses the Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies)