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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Eligibility criteria for COVID-19 vaccine to be updated every two weeks: ministry

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The ministry calls in citizens to keep an eye on bi-weekly updates of the eligibility criteria for obtaining the Covid-19 vaccine.

Qatar will update its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility criteria every two weeks, Doha’s health authorities announced on Wednesday. 

As a result of recent medical developments concerning the virus, the country is set to expand the criteria for the next phases to include more people, as part of the ongoing vaccination programme.

“Soon in the coming phases of the campaign we will expand. Every two weeks or so you will see change in the age group, health situation and people entitled for the vaccine accordingly,” said Al Bayat.

So far, the ministry has updated the list of chronic diseases that are eligible for the vaccination, which includes patients who are at high risk of developing complications if they contract COVID-19.

This came following a review by specialised medical committees monitoring developments in the medical field related to vaccination.

“Data of patients who meet the criteria for obtaining chronic condition certificates have been stored this week on the electronic health information system at HMC and PHCC,” said Dr. Yousuf Al Maslamani, Medical Director of HMC’s Hamad General Hospital. 

“Chronic condition certificates can now be issued upon request in an easy and timely manner,” he added.

“The certificates will contain a barcode indicating the name of the patient and their QID number and will be officially accepted by all authorities in the country.”

Read also: Covid-19 vaccine priority age decreased to 65+

Patients who meet the new criteria for obtaining chronic condition certificates can now request these certificates through the ‘MyHealth’ patient portal.

Currently, the vaccine is only available for those who are 16 years-old or older. However, Al Bayat said the programme will include younger children once the ministry receives “sufficient data of its safety and effectiveness”.

Earlier this week, the ministry updated the criteria and added those who are 65 and above as eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

Currently, there are 2634 active Covid-19 cases in the country, with 150+ daily reported cases. 

To top the good news, the second shipment of the Covid-19 vaccine – which will be the first Moderna batch to land in Qataris expected to arrive soon.

“The two companies Qatar has made partnership with are Pfizer-BioNTech, which is available in Qatar at present, and Moderna. We hope to receive the first batch from Moderna in the coming several weeks,” said Dr Soha Al Bayat, head of vaccination, at the Ministry of Public Health. 

Until now, those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine have not reported any major side effects, the ministry announced.

“So far there have been 3 million or more vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech and other vaccines,” Al Bayat said, noting  very mild side effects.

“No major or significant side effects were reported on those in Qatar –  even across the world,” Al Bayat said, noting only some had mild allergic reactions. 

“Otherwise, no significant side effects,” Al Bayat added.

Despite this, the health expert said the vaccine is also safe for those with food or antibiotic allergies, but urged people to consult a physician to confirm they are not allergic to any components of the vaccine itself before receiving it. 

The first batch of the coronavirus vaccine by German firm BioNTech and American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, arrived in Qatar on December 21, making it one of the first Arab countries to receive the vaccine. 

Phase one of the campaign kicked off just two days after the vaccine arrived and is set to run until January 31. Previously, priority was being given to seniors above 70 years old, people with chronic illnesses who are 16 years or above, and frontline workers in the health sector. 

Following the first vaccination, recipients will receive a second dose 21 days later, which is said to bolster the immunisation process and the effectiveness of the vaccine. 

Clinical trials showed 95% of those tested developed antibodies after receiving two doses of the vaccine.


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