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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Nearly half of school staff vaccinated: health ministry

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The vaccination drive is set to expand in Qatar as more shots arrive in the country. 

More than 45% of teachers and administrators working in public and private schools have been inoculated against Covid-19, a senior official said on Wednesday.

So far, approximately 12% of the population in Qatar having received at least the first dose of the vaccine, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal said.

This include “more than 70% of health workers at HMC and more than 67% of primary care workers” who been vaccinated, Al Khal said.

The figure was released during a press conference to announce the latest developments regarding the ongoing pandemic, including the start of vaccinating all health workers in private hospitals and clinics from next week.

Besides frontline workers, imams, muezzins and mosque workers have also started the registration process.

Earlier this week, reports indicated that only 10% of the population in Qatar had received the vaccine against the novel coronavirus, triggering complaints over a slow-paced administering of vaccines, especially when compared with neighbouring countries. 

However, Al Khal assured the public that the vaccination drive is increasing in pace with larger shipments to reach Qatar expected soon – a promising step towards a gradual return to normalcy.

However, “this will not happen in the next few weeks or months,” he said.

“Covid-19 will continue to be a threat to our health for the majority of 2021 and until all eligible members of our population have been vaccinated, we must continue to follow the preventive measures,” Al Khal noted.

He anticipates that a large percentage of Qatar’s population will receive the vaccine by this summer.

“However, we continue to see a significant number of new cases each day and every day people are becoming sick due to the Covid-19, with many requiring admissions to hospital to manage their symptoms and even admission into ICU for life-saving treatment,” he observed.

Read also: Vaccinate or test weekly: School staff face strict new Covid-19 rules

Al Khal also confirmed the presence of the UK strain in Qatar.

“Qatar’s strict quarantine policy for returning travellers enabled us to delay the introduction of new variants into this country for several months but we are now seeing positive Covid-19 cases in the region and in Qatar with the new variant known as B.1.1.7 (UK strain),” Dr. Al-Khal said. 

More than 327,582 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the start of the vaccination programme in December.

Currently, more than 15,000 shots are are being administered on a daily basis and no serious side effects have been reported. 

Al Khal said more than half of the elderly population have already received at least the first dose of the vaccine, urging all groups on the priority list who have not yet been inoculated to get the vaccine.

Due to the availability of more vaccines and the opening of more centres, including the facility at Qatar National Convention Centre and the drive-through vaccination centre in Lusail, the eligibility age has also decreased to 50 and over.

Meanwhile, the health official said further restrictions are likely to be imposed due to a significant increase in infection cases.


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