Qatar plans to vaccinate nearly 90 percent of its eligible population against Covid-19 before the year-end, a top official revealed.
“For this, we have to vaccinate more than 100,000 people a week,” said Dr. Abdullatif al-Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation.
Addressing a virtual panel discussion at the Education City Speaker Series, held in collaboration with the World Innovation Summit for Health, the event involved healthcare experts and practitioners to discuss vaccine development and questions surrounding new variants of Covid-19 among other issues.
He further explained that the vaccination campaign is being implemented in adherence to effective public health measures such as screening and isolating the people who are suspected to have or been exposed to Covid-19.
“We have taken very effective steps to combat Covid-19. So we approached pharmaceutical companies that were in advanced stages of clinical trials for vaccines. We are also a member of the Covax facility where we get a percentage of our vaccines from,” said Dr. al-Khal.
The Covax facility was formed last year to ensure a fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for each country.
“One of the challenges that we had to face with the rolling out of the vaccine campaign is the global shortage of vaccine as in the case of other countries. Current production of vaccines is a tiny fraction of what the world needs. Another issue if we need to do it annually, we have to work on a strategy for our future supplies,” the official explained.
Dr. al-Khal explained that 27 health centres in the country provides vaccine to people seven days a week from 7am to 11pm. Further, vaccination centre at Qatar National Convention Centre has been opened to deliver 8000 doses per day. Further, the nurses have been trained at various ministries and other entities such as Interior Ministry, Ministry of Defence, Oil and Gas sector.
From today, the Ministry of Health has begun an initiative for the elderly who cannot make it to the health centres. For them, the vaccine will be provided at their homes, and also to their close family members, he explained.
Another major challenge that Qatar faced in the early stage was the misinformation surrounding the safety of the vaccine. This misinformation was circulated widely in the social media, and a major portion of people were hesitant to get themselves vaccinated. Hence, a group was formed to spread evidence-based information, and community figures helped in getting the message across to people, Dr.al-Khal further said.