• Privileges for those who don’t take Covid booster dose may change if immunity wanes after 12 months
• Those travelling advised to take the booster dose
Mixing vaccines does not pose any danger and those who got inoculated against Covid-19 outside Qatar can get the booster dose here, a senior health official has said.
Dr Soha al-Bayat, head of Vaccination at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), made the observation while speaking to Qatar TV on Monday.
In response to a question about the third dose for people who have been vaccinated outside Qatar, the official said: “For example, those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine outside Qatar will be given the booster dose of one of the two vaccines (in Qatar), Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. And there is no danger as there are countries that mix two vaccines to inoculate their residents without risk.”
She also indicated that privileges and relaxations granted to vaccinated people may change for those who do not take the Covid-19 vaccine booster dose and their immunity wanes after 12 months from the second dose.
Addressing the issue of relaxations given to those who have received the two doses and whether they will be affected in the coming period, the official explained: “While granting privileges to those vaccinated with both doses, the period prescribed was 12 months. However, if studies prove that there is almost no immunity after 12 months of the second dose, these relaxations may change.”
She reiterated the need for all eligible persons to take the booster dose to protect themselves and those around them, the elderly, at-risk groups, as well as children and infants.
The MoPH had recently announced that all individuals who received their second Covid-19 vaccine dose at least six months ago are now eligible for a booster dose. Earlier, a gap of eight months was required between the second dose and the booster. But growing clinical evidence led to the decision to reduce the duration between the second dose and the third booster dose.
With regard to linking the third dose to travel and the concerns people have expressed on social media in this regard, she explained: “When we advise people to take the third dose before travelling, the goal is to preserve and protect the people, especially since many countries in the world, especially Europe, are going through a fifth wave of the pandemic.
“But we also inform that whoever has taken the first and second doses, and travelled and come back but not taken the booster dose, will still have all the existing privileges and is subject to the procedures announced previously in terms of quarantine, examination and other issues. We, though, stress the importance of taking the third dose for those who plan to travel,” she said.
Dr al-Bayat said the MoPH is following up on clinical studies and research on Covid-19 vaccines and medicines at the level of countries around the world.
“The latest studies have proven that after six months of the second dose, immunity decreases. This is why we took the decision to give the booster dose after sixth months have passed since the second dose, and change it from eight months, based on the recent information we received. In order to obtain the booster dose, the groups most at risk are contacted and an appointment is arranged for them, while the rest of the groups can book an appointment by calling the primary healthcare centres in different parts of the country,” she added.
The official said no serious side effects have been recorded among those who have received the Covid-19 vaccine booster dose in Qatar. She added that the side effects are similar to those seen after the first and second doses, which include pain or heaviness in the arm for a period ranging from a few hours to a day or two.