Qatar began its vaccine drive a year ago and at least 5,000,000 of the population received both doses.
Qatar’s senior health official Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal assured that the side effects of the booster shot do not exceed those of the second dose, calling on the public to not hesitate in taking the the third jab.
This came in an exclusive interview with Qatar TV on Thursday, during which he revealed more details on the Omicron variant’s spread in Doha after four cases were recorded last week.
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Dr. Al Khal said the first cases of the Omicron virus were recorded among returning travellers quarantining in Qatar and confirmed none of them were hospitalised. Out of the four, three were vaccinated and one had not receive the vaccine prior.
“We knew it was a matter of time for the Omicron strain to reach Qatar and it is also expected to become the dominant virus in most parts of the world, including the US,” said Dr. Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC].
Read also: Negligence to Covid-19 measures leads to spike in Qatar cases, doctors warn
The Qatari health official noted that scientific evidence proves a decrease in the acquired immunity against the Delta and Omicron strain after a period of four-to-six months from taking the vaccines.
He added that taking the booster dose significantly raises the levels of antibodies, saying that the side effects recorded among the 215,000 people who have already received their third shot in Qatar have not exceeded those seen in the second dose.
“The side effects [following the second dose] include pain in the place where the needle was injected, mild fever, headache, and fatigue. Some would have side effects for two-to-three days and immediately respond to Panadol and no severe side effects were reported to the Ministry of Public Health [MOPH],” explained Dr. Al Khal.
Furthermore, Dr. Al Khal said that preliminary studies show that current vaccines are effective against Omicron. However, the efficacy of the vaccines after six months decrease, though the third shot increases it.
While the local health ministry is calling on the public community to take the booster shot, Dr. Al Khal said that the national campaign for the third dose will be launched soon for all members of society.
The interview comes a year after Qatar began its vaccination drive, with 85% of the total population receiving both doses.
Dr. Al Khal said that the success of Qatar’s vaccination campaign is due to the public’s cooperation with the health ministry, as well their awareness, despite the spread of false information regarding the jabs worldwide.
He also stressed the importance of wearing masks when going out and adhering to preventive measures at all times to further protect the local community from infection.
As it stands, there has been an increase in daily recorded infections among the local community over the past month. Local health officials have attributed this to increasing negligence to Covid-19 measures by the public.
On Thursday, Qatar recorded 187 new infections, of which 149 were from the local community and 38 were from returning travellers – bumping up the total number of active cases to 2,339.
So far, Qatar has registered a total of 614 deaths since the pandemic started.
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