An elderly Qatari citizen becomes the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in Qatar.
The elderly, frontline healthcare workers and those with chronic illness who are over 16 years old began receiving the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine at Thumama Health Centre in Doha earlier on Wednesday.
The move is considered the first phase of a mass vaccination program aimed to control the spread of the virus in the country and return to normality.
The first Pfizer vaccine in Doha was successfully given to 79-year-old Abdullah Al Kubaisi, former Qatar University president, earlier on Wednesday at Al-Wajba Health Center.
“We appreciate all the effort the government has put in to protect the people of Qatar, especially given the severity of the virus,” Al Kubaisi said to Al Raya before taking the vaccine.
The first phase of the vaccine distribution, which began on Wednesday and will run until January the 31st, 2021, will focus on the above three categories deemed to be most vulnerable.
This is due to the limited number of shots currently available around the world.
However Qatar has signed several deals, including ones with other vaccine producers like Moderna and Oxford-Astrazenica to provide enough vaccine shots for everyone living in the country.
Read also: COVID in Qatar – everything you need to know
The selected patients who are eligible were contacted via phone and text message by the ministry.
Following the first vaccination, recipients will receive a second dose that will be sent as a reminder via a text message.
Health officials warned that missing the next dose, which should be taken 21 days after the first, will affect their immunisation process and the effectiveness of the vaccine, despite immunity developing a week after the initial injection.
According to health officials, the vaccine is voluntary and will be available at seven different health centres in different areas across Qatar, including: Al Wajba, Leabaib, Al Ruwais, Umm Salal, Rawdat Al Khail, Al Thumama, and Muaither.
Last month, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech announced the-long-awaited coronavirus vaccine was more than 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 among those without evidence of prior infection.
The manufacturers said that vaccinated individuals and those who received a placebo indicated an efficacy rate of 90% and above at seven days after the second dose.
Qatar is also set to receive vaccines from US-based drug manufacturer, Moderna, which says its vaccine has a 94.5% effectiveness as well as the Oxford vaccines.
This week, and for the first time since June, the total number of active coronavirus cases in Qatar has gone below 2,000— a result of cross-community and governmental effort to maintain the virus and return to normality.
Not only that, but the number of reported daily cases has also been steadily decreasing, with the ministry reporting under 200 cases daily.