PEKANBARU, Indonesia – An Indonesian city is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to its people with a growing fleet of inoculation buses, as the country faces a spike in infections after a major religious festival.
Authorities in Pekanbaru on the island of Sumatra have doubled to 10 the number of buses in its vaccination programme, since launching it on June 1, following a favourable response from the public, who are happy with the convenience.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of 270 million people, is bracing for a peak in coronavirus infections after the Eid al-Fitr festival last month that saw millions travel to visit family and friends.
“I hope this programme will keep continuing until all the people in this town get fully vaccinated,” said Delvi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, after getting a vaccine shot on the bus.
“It is closer and easier than the vaccination centre.”
The government of Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province, says the buses have administered 12,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine and are giving more than 1,000 shots a day. Authorities say they plan to increase the number of buses but have not said by how many.
Despite the interest in the bus project, authorities say they must fight misinformation about COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We saw some people had doubts about getting vaccinated because of fake news,” said district chief Said Ahmad Zamzami.
“We inform them not to believe that and this vaccine is good for our immune system. People are also more convinced now because myself, as the head of the district, also participated,” he said before getting his shot.
Indonesia plans to vaccinate 181.5 million people by next year. Only 11.57 million Indonesians have received two shots of the vaccines in use there: Sinovac, China’s Sinopharm, or the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.