Qatar’s MoPH speeds up its vaccination drive to successfully vaccinate over one million people, many of whom are workers, with the aim to return to normalcy.
More than 1,004,136 people, including at least 120,000 workers, have now been fully vaccinated in Qatar, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced, as authorities prepare for phase one of the lifting of restrictions.
After initially prioritising essential workers, the national Covid-19 vaccination programme recently focused on inoculating basic working groups, regardless of age, with the aim to support the safe implementation of the four-stage plan for the gradual lifting of restrictions.
These include those that work in sectors that mix directly with community members such as barbers, hairdressers, restaurants, stores, catering stores, hotels and hospitality services, according to Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor, senior consultant of emergency medicine at HMC and lead of the Covid-19 vaccination appointment unit.
Teams from the Covid-19 vaccination appointment unit coordinated closely with various business sectors to schedule appointments for all employees in recent weeks to ensure they receive the vaccines, Dr. Abdulnoor noted.
As part of this week’s easing of restrictions, only those that have been fully vaccinated can access some services and facilities on May 28.
Among the services that will be reopened for vaccinated citizens and residents are cinemas, theaters, private beaches, libraries and museums which will operate at a 30% capacity only for those who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccines.
This has sparked an online debate about the Covid-19 vaccine, with some claiming indirect obligations to take the jab “violates rights”.
However, a senior official from the Ministry of Public Health assured people that Qatar has no plans to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory.
Dr. Soha Al-Bayat, the head of vaccination, told Qatar TV in a recent interview that the public will be given the choice as to whether they want to receive the vaccine or not.
However, those who do not receive the vaccine will still be prohibited from accessing many services.
Health officials have advised the public to choose wisely and head to vaccination centres to keep themselves and their community safe amid the ongoing pandemic.
Those who have received both doses of the vaccine are 61 times less likely to require hospitalisation if infected by the virus, and 91 times less likely to require intensive care, according to studies.
“Extensive clinical trials have shown the Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to be around 95% effective at preventing symptomatic infection. This does not mean vaccinated people are immune to the virus or cannot contract it, but it means they are very unlikely to develop severe symptoms and become ill in the event that they do contract Covid-19,” said Medical Director of the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) at HMC Dr Muna al-Maslamani.
Real-world data from Qatar has also shown high protection rates provided by the vaccines from both the UK and South African mutations. More recent data also revealed great protection provided by the Pfizer and Moderna jabs against the Indian strain as well.
So far in Qatar, there have been no Covid-19 related deaths among fully vaccinated people.