KEZIA LAKSMONO WRITES — So, on April 2nd, in the heart of Jakarta, I strode into a large building where the vaccine was being distributed and almost cried with joy as I got my jab of the Sinovac vaccine.

This name might be unknown to you – with all the headlines surrounding Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – but it is a locally-made vaccine produced by a state-run pharmaceutical company known as Bio Farma. It was manufactured in Bandung, West Java, under the license of China’s Sinovac Biotech.

Fast forward from the first round of the vaccine distribution on January 13, targeted to medical workers , to eligibility now to the general public.

But do you know what is the cherry on top? As announced by President Jokowi at the beginning of the vaccination drive, the vaccine is free of charge in order to build trust amongst the public and to show that it would be safe  to use.

Now, there’s nothing like a real-life test, as I was tempted to go out and about right after I received my first dose. But it’s important to still adhere to health protocols, as compliance is also a factor in defeating the virus. So we still have to apply the 3W’s, which funnily has become like a national mantra: wear your masks, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

As expected, I felt yucky the following day: headache, body aches, fatigue. But I wasn’t worried, as these mild, flulike symptoms are very common after many immunizations, and especially after the one for COVID-19. I resumed working from home, took a snooze after and was fine in a matter of hours.

Both the data as well as my own real-world experience with the vaccine are incredibly positive and reassuring. I am confident that we can enter a new normal. Yes, we may also see cases of COVID-19 among those who haven’t yet received the vaccine and those who decline it. But for the most part, once enough folks are vaccinated, I predict a resurgence in restaurants and travel, weddings and family dinners. And I can’t wait!

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