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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Walk-in booster shots now available in Qatar as Ehteraz rules updated


Those eligible can now head to their registered healthcare centre to receive their third dose without a prior appointment. 

People living in Qatar can now receive the COVID-19 booster shot at their designated healthcare center without a prior appointment, if they meet the criteria for receiving the third jab the ministry of health has announced.

The new update aims to encourage those who completed six months since their second dose to receive the booster shot as soon as possible to avoid a greater spread of Covid-19, especially with the new “easily transmissible” Omicron variant now present in Qatar.

“As we see the number of daily Covid-19 cases increasing, we remind the public that the third dose can increase the immunity level and protect people from severe sickness and hospital admission,” said Dr. Shawqiya Al Majid, Manager at Umm Ghuwailina Health Centre.

The third dose, or the ‘booster shot,’ is an additional injection given to increase the anti-bodies after they begin to decrease over time.

The United State’s FDA has authorized—and Qatar’s CDC has approved booster shots for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, along with a “mix-and-match” approach that would allow people to choose a different vaccine for their booster than the one they started with.

Recent studies have shown that ‘mix and match’ regimens for Covid-19 vaccinations are safe and highly effective at preventing the virus—matching or even exceeding the performance of mRNA vaccines.

This means that those who received AstraZeneca or J&J abroad can have any of the booster shots available in Qatar.

Can you “mix-and-match” COVID vaccines?

Health officials in Qatar said that the additional shot gives an estimated 75 percent protection against symptomatic disease from the new Omicron variant, adding that all individuals who received their second vaccine dose at least six months ago are eligible to receive the third.

“We encourage everyone eligible to get the COVID-19 booster dose and keep themselves protected.  With more than 247,000 people have received the booster dose and no major side effects were reported.”

“We call on all members of society to do their part in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Receive the booster dose as soon as you are eligible to receive it, and be sure to adhere to the precautionary measures,” added Dr. Al Majid.

Ehteraz’s Gold Frame Update

Meanwhile, the ministry announced a new Ehteraz update linked to the booster shot to encourage the community to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

Starting February 1, 2022, those who received their second dose more than 9 months ago will be considered not fully and will lose their Gold Frame (immunized) status on Ehteraz.

Those who receive the booster shot will keep their Gold Frame status for a further 9 months, the ministry added.

Read also: Spike in Covid-19 cases: Public negligence or large scale events?

The move comes after new medical research revealed that protective immunity from the Coronavirus begins to decline six months after the second dose of an approved vaccine. This has pushed authorities to change the vaccine validity of Covid-19 immunity from 12 months to 9 months following the second dose.

New Vaccination Centre to Open

To expand the country’s vaccination efforts to tackle the spread of the virus, Qatar will open a new vaccination centre in Bu Garn for the business and industry sectors.

The new facility will open its doors to the public starting Sunday, January 9, and will administer Covid-19 vaccines to key business and industry workers. It will have the capacity to administer up to 30,000 vaccine doses per day.

The ministry said that the majority of the vaccines administered will be booster shots, but the first and second doses will also be given out to eligible people if needed.

However, only those with appointments will be allowed in Bu Garn vaccination—no walks are permitted. A vaccination unit has been set up to support the booking and appointment process at centre.

Businesses can schedule appointments for their staff by emailing QVChamad.qa.

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