All members of the society are part of the target group for the Covid-19 vaccine booster dose in Qatar, while the priority right now is for people above 65, those with chronic conditions and frontline healthcare workers, a senior health official has said.
Dr Soha al-Bayat, head of the Vaccination Department at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), made the observation while speaking to Qatar TV on Tuesday, a day before the MoPH starts administering the booster dose to high-risk individuals who received their second dose of the vaccine more than eight months ago.
She said the booster dose has proven to be safe and effective and will not have any side effects that are different from those seen after the first and second doses.
Dr al-Bayat also stressed that the flu and Covid-19 vaccines can be safely taken at the same time, including by those eligible for the booster dose.
“Clinical experience has shown that it is safe for people to receive the seasonal influenza and Covid-19 vaccines at the same time,” she said in a statement posted on social media by the MoPH on Tuesday. “The latest clinical evidence shows there is no increased risk of side effects when having the two vaccine doses at the same time and it does not affect the efficacy of either vaccine.”
“This is good news for people at high-risk of severe Covid-19 infection who are eligible for their Covid-19 vaccine booster dose. These individuals can safely receive their Covid-19 booster vaccine and annual influenza vaccine on the same appointment,” she added.
The MoPH had recently announced that it would begin to administer Covid-19 vaccine booster shots from September 15 to all high-risk individuals, who had received their second dose of the vaccine more than eight months ago. The approval of booster doses marks the start of a new phase of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, the ministry stressed.
On August 24, the ministry began giving a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to certain immuno-compromised individuals, because they may not get the level of immunity from a two-dose vaccine series compared to other people.
The first few months of the booster phase programme will focus on individuals most at risk of severe infection, which includes people over 65 years of age and those with chronic conditions, which increases their risk for severe Covid-19, as well as frontline healthcare workers and people employed in some other sectors.
The MoPH’s decision is in line with the recent clinical evidence supporting the additional protective effect of a booster dose. The latest clinical evidence shows that, for most people, the protective immunity obtained from their primary vaccine series gradually starts to decline after a period of eight months. This is particularly true for mild to moderate infections.
The booster dose will benefit these individuals by significantly increasing their antibody levels against the virus and raising their levels of protection against the different variants, including the Delta variant, for many months ahead, the ministry has said in a statement.
All eligible individuals for the booster dose will be contacted by the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) to fix an appointment and are encouraged to get the booster vaccine as soon as they are contacted, without delay, especially individuals at the highest risk of severe Covid-19 infection and frontline workers. The ministry has urged people to ensure they receive their booster vaccine within 12 months of their second dose to ensure they maintain their Gold Vaccinated Status on Ehteraz.
People who are already eight months since their second dose of the mRNA vaccine and have not been contacted by the PHCC can call 4027 7077 to get an appointment.
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