The looks of happiness jolted from the faces of Miracle School Special Needs Education when each student received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination on July 26th, 2021. The free vaccination program is serving not only the public but also special needs children, as they are younger and have additional challenges related to developmental delay or medical diagnoses. These health conditions place children living with disabilities at higher risk for becoming infected with and developing severe illness as a result of COVID-19.
Amongst children, those with special needs have proven to be one of the most at risk from COVID-19 as those infected have a higher mortality rate and are four times more likely to contract the virus than others (Kompas, 2020). This resulted in the Minister of Social Affairs to announce that those with special needs will be treated as a priority in the government’s vaccination program and to accelerate herd immunity, the government targets to vaccinate 564,000 of those with special needs (Media Indonesia, 2021).
However, data from i-SERVE Vaccine Phase 4 showed a shocking number. Reported only 71 vaccine recipients who are special needs children out of 18.591 successfully administered vials. The low number of special needs vaccine recipients is caused by various reasons, namely the location distance, feeling that the vaccination is not a top priority, or fear that the little ones might throw a tantrum on the vaccination spot.
The Ministry of Health stated that children aged 12-17 years will get the Sinovac vaccine. Children with special needs can be vaccinated as long as the child’s condition is stable; no symptoms, healthy, and free from any special medications or something that causes immunosuppression. To ease the hesitancy, YCAB Foundation offers the solution to this problem by providing a free pick-up from the agreed spot, enabling volunteers to help take care of these children, and making sure that all healthcare workers are friendly. Not only that, this vaccination program is a drive-thru, so that there will be less commotion and more comfort for the said participant. The 4th Phase at YCAB’s i-SERVE vaccination center began in July focusing on children and children with special needs aged 12-year-old and above. Overseeing our national vaccination urgency we collaborated with Yayasan Indonesia Peduli Anak Berkebutuhan Khusus (YIPABK) and successfully vaccinated over 9,206 children.
Until the end of July, Indonesia was still at war with the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore it was very important to take strategic steps to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus. From the data of the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, as of July 16, there were around 12.83% cases of children aged 18 years and under, or around 351,000 children exposed to this deadly virus. Seeing this, YCAB Foundation hopes that the national vaccine target can be achieved soon and invites all parties to protect themselves by receiving vaccines and implementing the 6M health protocol.