The policy set by the Government regarding booster vaccination for travel requirements is indeed very appropriate. This policy is needed to prevent the spike in the Covid-19 pandemic which is currently increasing and to provide maximum protection to the public.
Covid-19 cases from the latest Omicron subvariants, namely BA.4 and BA.5, must continue to be watched out for by all parties. One of the steps in this vigilance is to continue to strive to increase antibodies, which can be practiced in several ways, including one of them is by giving booster vaccinations.
Therefore, the Government continues to strive to improve the achievement of vaccination in Indonesia, especially for the third dose or booster to the entire community. This started with the data from the PeduliLindung report which stated that every day in the country, there are an average of 1.9 people enter the mall, but only about 24.6 percent have received booster vaccines.
When he received the data, the Java-Bali PPKM Coordinator, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, immediately changed the rules regarding travel requirements and also activities including going to offices, malls and so on for the entire community, which must have been injected with a booster vaccine first. Furthermore, the booster vaccine service is also available in many places so that it will certainly make it easier for the public to reach it, such as airports, stations, terminals to shopping centers.
Regarding the new policy that was changed, the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo himself had also conveyed it at a Limited Cabinet Meeting and then submitted the regulations to the Task Force. Of course, everything that has been attempted is a form of Indonesia’s effort to immediately want to be released from the shackles of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is because recently BA.4 and BA.5 have started to enter several countries with a significant increase, such as in France, Italy, Singapore and Germany. Although in several other countries there have been significant increases, according to Luhut, in the country itself, so far the daily cases of the population are at the lowest position, which means it is not as significant as other countries.
Not just a mandatory vaccine policy for travellers, but tracing will also be tightened again by cooperating with several parties such as the TNI and Polri. With the increase in tracing that is being carried out again, it is hoped that the prevention of transmission of the latest Omicron subvariant can be prevented more effectively and mitigation measures if there are people who are exposed will also be better prepared.
Some of these regulations, including the Java-Bali PPKM as explained by Luhut, admitted that so far the PPKM policy will continue to be implemented and it is not yet known how long. However, the Government and the President will also continue to carry out regular evaluations regarding the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, so that what steps will be taken in the future will also continue to adapt to current conditions.
The former General of Kopassus also emphasized that the role of the entire community in handling and immediately breaking the chain of transmission of Covid-19 in the country is very important, it can even be said to be the main key. Therefore, the people themselves must have self-awareness, if they are still incomplete in carrying out vaccines, they can immediately request vaccination services for the common good, including so that Indonesia’s economic recovery can also be carried out more smoothly.
Meanwhile, an Epidemiologist from Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), Laura Navika Yamani stated that the policy imposed by the Government regarding the obligation of booster vaccines in traveling is a very appropriate step to take.
Then it was also explained that the recent increase in cases of Covid-19 transmission was caused by the mutation of the virus, so it is clear that what can be done is to strengthen the body’s immune system with a vaccination program. The epidemiologist also advised the entire community to continue to do the 3M combination, namely wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining distance. Then for the government, 3T must continue, namely Tracing, Testing and Treatment.
Another epidemiologist, even from Griffith University, Dicky Budiman, shares the same opinion, that the policy that has been changed is the best thing that can be done. Especially when there are regulations that are obligatory, then the condition of the people who have recently begun to ignore the existence of a pandemic can return to being obedient and understand how important it is to carry out booster vaccines.
Dicky also explained that the best step that humans can take in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic is to prevent rather than be infected. Because if someone is already infected, especially those who have certain comorbidities, it is clear that the infection will become much more severe. Even for people who have several times the risk is also great, one of which is the potential for being exposed to Long Covid-19 which can reduce their health in the future to the worst that can cause death.
The government must have made careful observations through studies with several experts when they wanted to implement a certain country policy, including requiring booster vaccines as a condition of travel. Apart from that the epidemiologists themselves have also supported it, so there is no doubt that this policy is very appropriate.
)* The author is a contributor to Pertiwi Institute