Qatar’s public health ministry has urged residents to “not pay attention to rumors” amid parental concerns about a new vaccination campaign.
In response to sporadic outbreaks of measles in the country, officials will begin administering booster shots of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to schoolchildren this week.
According to Qatar’s vaccination schedules, children should be given two MMR shots: one at 12 months, and the second at 18 months.
Many countries have used a third MMR vaccine as a way of controlling disease outbreaks, but some parents have said they do not want their kids to have this.
Others expressed concern about vaccines’ links to other health problems.
But in a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) reassured parents that the immunizations are safe and effective, and have been used worldwide for more than 40 years.
“The National MMR vaccination campaign was planned and prepared for on basis of the WHO recommendations following the measles cases registered in Qatar – 18 cases in 2015 and 22 cases in the past few months – within the campaign targeted age group one to 13 years.”
The ministry stressed the importance of taking the MMR booster dose to prevent the diseases noting that about 3 to 5 percent of the children do not develop sufficient immunity against the diseases after the first or the second dose.”
In response to “rumors” that the vaccine is linked to autism, MOPH reiterated that this theory has long been debunked.
It cited the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, which both said there is no link between the two.
The ministry also explained how the MMR vaccine works, saying it contains deactivated viruses “with minimized ability to morbidity in order to stimulate the human immune system to build its immunity.”
“The presence of more than one devitalized virus in the vaccine leads to the creation of a strong but not sufficient immunity; that is the reason for a second and a booster doses in different stages of age.”
Previously, officials said no child would be given a shot without parental permission. Anyone with questions about the drive, which runs from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, can call MOPH’s hotline.
The number is 66740948 for Arabic speakers, and 66740951 for English ones. Officials can also be reached at [email protected].