The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is calling on all residents and citizens over 60 years of age to get vaccinated against coronavirus as soon as possible.
Due to an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in Qatar, MoPH is advising people above the age of 60 to get vaccinated in one of its designated clinics as soon as possible.
This comes as a recent increase in COVID-19 infections in Qatar has resulted in four deaths of patients aged 60 years and above in the past few days alone.
The last fatality recorded was an 86-year-old who died on Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths to 255. Qatar has had a coronavirus fatality rate of 0.14%, one of the lowest in the world.
“Since the start of the pandemic more than 12 months ago it has been clear that age is the biggest risk factor for COVID-19,”said Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad, National Health Strategy 2018-2022 Lead for Healthy Ageing.
People over the age of 60 have a significantly higher risk of developing severe complications and even death due to the virus,” Dr. Hanadi added.
“I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is for older people to get their vaccine. Now that we have an approved and effective vaccine, elderly citizens and residents have the opportunity to become protected and live free from the threat of this virus,” explained Dr. Al Hamad.
She also advised children of older parents and grandparents to enlighten their elderly relatives about the importance of taking the vaccine against the fatal disease.
“We know that some older people are still reluctant to take the vaccine – even though we now have a huge amount of evidence here in Qatar which proves beyond doubt that the vaccine is completely safe,” Dr. Hanadi added.
“I urge everyone who has elderly relatives to take time out to speak with them to help them overcome their fears about the vaccine and to support them in getting an appointment with their local health centre without delay,” she said.
Maximum protection against the virus is only guaranteed after taking the second dose of the vaccine, she said.
Patients over the age of 60 who are infected with with the novel coronavirus are subjected to higher risk of developing severe complications.
The doctor explained that “due to their increased vulnerability and often weakened immune systems, the elderly are more susceptible to long-term complications due to COVID-19.
“Even if they recover from their immediate severe symptoms, many elderly people experience what is known as ‘Long Covid’,” she said.
Symptoms of Long Covid can last several weeks or months and includes extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, and problems with memory and concentration.
“The COVID-19 vaccine helps to protect people from these long-term symptoms, and this is why it is so essential for older people to get vaccinated,” she said.
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The remarks were made amid a rise in cases that has triggered concerns over a potential second wave
At the start of the year, authorities confirmed 2,241 active cases. This has since increased by 287% to 8,675 active cases.
Across the world, the virus has constantly mutated into new strains, with two detected in the UK and South Africa, though Qatar has so far been spared.
At the start of the month, the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management held a press conference to announce the reimposition of some restrictions in a bid to contain the surge in cases.