Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Qatar starts today

  • 4 months   ago

Qatar has started administering the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine and initiated its vaccination campaign today morning at seven designated health centers in the country.  

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has re-assured that the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech is safe and has passed all regulatory approvals. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has proven to be 95 percent effective in global trials, where two doses are administered three weeks apart.

Among first to receive the vaccinations were selected patients and contacted by phone or SMS. The recipients are over 70-year-old, adults in chronic treatment, those with severe chronic illnesses, and healthcare practitioners.

In the first phase of the vaccination campaign the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines will be given to the priority population groups at seven PHCC health centers: Al Wajba, Leabaib, Al Ruwais, Um Slal, Rawdat Al Khail, Al Thumama and Muaither.

With the start of the Qatar’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign beginning today, Dr. Samya Al Abdulla, Executive Director of Operations at Primary Health Care Corporation, confirmed that patients who are eligible to receive the vaccination will be contacted directly to arrange their appointments.

Vaccinations are administered on a voluntary basis and provided free of charge, according to Dr. Abdullatif al-Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19.

The vaccinations are being provided from seven primary health centres including:

• Al Wajba Health Centre

• Leabaib Health Center

• Al Ruwais Health Center

• Umm Slal Health Center

• Rawdat Al Khail Health Center

• Al Thumama Health Center 

• Muaither Health Center

“The initial shipment of Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines arrived in Qatar on Monday and provides enough vaccines for those people most at risk. The Ministry of Public Health’s strategy will enable everyone in Qatar to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in 2021, but for now we must prioritize people most at risk from severe complications and death from the virus,” explained Dr. Al Abdulla.

“Initially, vaccines will be prioritized for three key population groups:

• people over 70 years of age

• people with multiple chronic conditions

• key healthcare workers with repeated exposure to COVID-19

Citizens and residents within these priority groups will be contacted by text messages and telephone calls from a PHCC health professional to arrange their vaccination appointment,” added Dr. Al Abdulla.

Dr. Al Abdulla explained that each of these health centers will have vaccination teams dedicated solely to administering the COVID-19 vaccine and that every effort has been made to ensure patients have a smooth and efficient experience when visiting the health centers. She added that the health centers and nursing teams are experienced in providing vaccinations as this is a regular part of their work. Administering and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is very similar to the seasonal influenza vaccine, which is provided at all PHCC health centers each year. 

“It is important to note that the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine requires a second shot to be given 21 days after the first. Our appointment team will book patients in for their second vaccination visit and it is essential that people keep to this date and attend their appointment as planned, as any delay can impact the vaccine’s ability to offer protection. Full immunity develops around one week after the second dose of the vaccine,” added Dr. Al Abdulla.

Qatar received its first novel coronavirus vaccines on Monday, just hours after regulators approved the jab for use in the Gulf state, which says it will innoculate all residents free of charge. 

A shipment of 14 boxes of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine landed at Doha's Hamad International Airport aboard a Qatar Airways passenger Boeing 787 from Brussels shortly after 2000 GMT, according to AFP correspondents on site.

Authorities have not said how many doses arrived in the first shipment.

, said during a speech on state TV Monday that vaccinations would begin from Wednesday.

"The priority will be the elderly, those with chronic conditions and medical staff," he said.

The European Union, Britain, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Singapore, Israel and Bahrain have all green lighted the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, paving the way for inoculations to begin.

It needs to be stored at the ultra-low temperature of -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), posing handling and storage challenges.

Qatar's health ministry "has issued the approval and registration of Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine, which is one of the two vaccines (the ministry) has secured agreements to purchase," it said in a statement Monday, ahead of the delivery.

The vaccine "was approved after the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Control conducted a thorough review of the vaccine and the results of clinical studies conducted on a wide range of volunteers", the ministry added.

"Their review showed that the vaccine is safe and effective in accordance with international standards."

Qatar will also administer doses of the vaccine made by US firm Moderna Therapeutics.

 

The Gulf state has tested 44 percent of its population of 2.75 million and recorded 142,159 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, only 243 people have died of the virus and the rate of new infections per 100,000 for the past week was 37.7 -- well down from the peak.

Khal said that "starting this month and continuing throughout 2021 we will undertake the biggest vaccine programme ever delivered in Qatar."

Read also: Your Guide to COVID-19 vaccine in Qatar: Latest News and Updates

Source: Ministry of Public Health

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