Fri, 30 Jul 2021

Vaccination tours to west promise Covid shots for Indonesians

Robert Besser
23 Jun 2021, 06:12 GMT+10

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Some Indonesian residents are traveling to wealthier countries to receive Covid vaccinations.

"It just so happens that I haven't gotten the vaccine here, so I might as well go for a trip and get a vaccine there," 25 year-old Muhammad Risqy from Indonesia said, as reported by Reuters.

Risqy will travel with his parents, and all three will be vaccinated in America.

To date, Indonesia has only fully vaccinated 5 percent, or 8.8 million people, according to the government. Authorities had set a goal of vaccinating 181.5 million Indonesians in 2021.

Officials of ATS Vacations, an Indonesian travel agency offering "vaccination tours", said it earlier lost 75 percent of its business due to the pandemic. Company officials add that vaccination trips are beneficial to both the travel industry and consumers.

"We are helping those who want to get vaccinated, but are having difficulties (getting a shot). Since they want to travel at the same time, why not combine both?" asked Lilik Budiman, ATS Vacations' sales director, as reported by Reuters.

The agency's advertising promotes "the chance for a free vaccine."

More than 100 people have booked vaccination tours, scheduled to be held from June to November. However, those seeking to travel need to secure visas to their destination countries.

The eight-day group tours for vaccinations can cost from $1,100 per person. Individual tours can cost as much as $3,700 per person.

Another Indonesian, Dewiana, 33, has scheduled a vaccination tour with her husband at the end of September. She said she was motivated by the opportunity to receive her preferred vaccine brand.

"From the brochure, I learned that the vaccine we will get is Johnson & Johnson," she told Reuters.

Indonesia has been vaccinating its population with China's Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

"Seeking medical treatment in the United States is a permissible purpose of travel for individuals holding a valid visitor visa," said Michael Quinlan, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, as quoted by Reuters.

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