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'First' Indonesian prelate receives Covid-19 vaccine

Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang calls on Catholics to help achieve herd immunity by having their shots

'First' Indonesian prelate receives Covid-19 vaccine

Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang was vaccinated on Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy of Dokpen KWI)

Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang has helped spur Indonesia’s Covid-19 vaccination drive by becoming what many believe to be the first Catholic prelate in the country to receive the vaccine

The prelate was among eight local dignitaries who received their first doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine in Ketapang in West Kalimantan province on Feb. 2.

“I did this with a joyful heart. I received the Covid-19 jab in my left arm and hardly felt anything,” he told UCA News.

He praised the government for not wasting any time in launching the vaccination drive.

“Our lives are really affected by the pandemic which has ravaged our country this past year,” he said.

Bishop Prapdi, who is also chairman of the Commission for Youth of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI), called on Catholics, particularly young people, to support and receive vaccinations

“Do not be afraid. By receiving the vaccine, young people can become the protectors of those who cannot receive it. This is a true act of surrendering themselves to saving others,” he said, adding that he will receive his second dose on Feb. 16.

Meanwhile, Bishop Edwaldus Martinus Sedu of Maumere in the predominantly Catholic East Nusa Tenggara province said he will receive his first dose by the end of the week.

“I am ready for this,” the 58-year-old prelate told UCA News.

Bishop Sedu, who is also chairman of the KWI’s education commission, said he led a prayer meeting and blessed the vaccine on Feb. 3 following a request by the local health agency.

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“It seems that I was the only bishop in Indonesia who has done so. Catholics are the majority group here. Also, local people believe that all activities should be blessed first,” he said.

According to him, Bishop Prapdi was the first bishop to receive the vaccine. “I might be wrong, but I have never heard of any other bishop having had it,” he said.

Indonesia, which has been the hardest-hit country in Southeast Asia by the pandemic, began its vaccination drive on Jan. 13 after receiving approval from its Food and Drug Monitoring Agency and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

According to an MUI fatwa (religious edict), the vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech was "pure and halal" and "could be used by Muslims as long as their safety is guaranteed by credible experts.”

The country seeks to deliver shots to 181.5 million people to create herd immunity.

President Joko Widodo was the first to receive the vaccine along with dozens of officials, including Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo, executive secretary of the KWI’s Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

As of Feb. 3, Indonesia had recorded 1,099,687 Covid-19 cases and 30,581 deaths.

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