Qatar on Wednesday had joined the rank of a handful of countries to roll out the vaccination campaign by administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at seven primary health centres.
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Sheikh Dr Mohammed al-Thani, director of Public Health, Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), took the vaccine yesterday.
Dr Hamad al-Romaihi, vice chairman of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee and director of Health Protection and Communicable Diseases, MoPH, Dr Soha al-Bayat, head of Vaccination, MoPH; and Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director, Communicable Disease Center, HMC, were also among the other officials who received the Covid-19 vaccine yesterday.
In a tweet from the MoPH, Dr al-Khal was quoted as saying that the start of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Qatar is a hugely significant moment for the country after what has been a very challenging year for everyone.
"I have full confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine and encourage all those high-risk members of our community who are eligible in this first phase of the campaign to take this opportunity to protect themselves and get vaccinated.”
In the first phase of vaccination lasting until January 31, preference is given to people over 70, adults in chronic care and home care facilities, healthcare personnel most at risk of infection and people over 16 with severe chronic diseases. The Covid-19 vaccine will not be given to children below 16 as clinical trials were not done among this group.
Sheikh Dr Mohammed al-Thani explained that the vaccine providers and regulators have worked hard to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine.
"The arrival and widespread acceptance and uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine here in Qatar will empower us to return to our pre-Covid-19 lifestyles sooner rather than later," he said, according to another tweet from the MoPH.
"To ensure this I ask you to take the vaccine when you are able to and also encourage your vulnerable family members to as well,” he added.
Dr Hamad al-Romaihi, said: “I am proud that Qatar is among the first countries in the world to provide a safe, effective and approved Covid-19 vaccine for its population.
"This safe and effective vaccine has passed all trials and been approved by the European Union's medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the Qatar Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Control.
"With sufficient uptake of the vaccine in our community we can look forward to a gradual return to normal life,” he stated, according to another MoPH tweet.
Dr Soha al-Bayat pointed out that: "Covid-19 has made 2020 a difficult year for all of us. Now, we have access to the Covid-19 vaccine here in Qatar, we have the opportunity to start a gradual return to normal life and activities.
"To get to this point the vaccine has undergone extensive testing to ensure it is both safe and effective. I encourage everyone who is eligible for the vaccine to take it when it is their turn,” MoPH tweeted.
Dr Muna al-Maslamani, observed that Covid-19 has impacted the lives of almost everyone in Qatar in some way. "Lives have been lost and many people have been admitted to hospital with severe symptoms.The widespread uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine is our best chance of returning to normal life. It has been subjected to rigorous medical trials and has been shown to be safe and effective. I urge you and your loved ones to take the vaccine when the opportunity arises,” she was quoted as saying in another MoPH tweet.
Dr Hanadi al-Hamad, medical director of Rumailah Hospital, in a tweet invited all the elderly within the target groups in the first phase of the campaign to obtain the vaccine according to the schedule for each of them.