The Ministry of Public Health’s (MOPH) vaccination head, Dr Soha Al Bayat, has urged everyone eligible to not delay getting the Covid-19 booster vaccine. In a press release by the MOPH earlier this week, Dr Al Bayat stated that the latest scientific evidence suggests that Covid vaccine protection starts to wane after eight months.
She also said that everyone currently invited to get the booster is considered to have a higher risk of developing complications if they catch the virus because of their age or health status.
Categories now eligible for a booster include people who got the vaccine over eight months ago and are age 50 and up, are immunocompromised, or have a chronic condition that increases their risk of severe infection. Dr Al Bayat said that it is vital for those individuals to get vaccinated as soon as possible to keep up their immunity against Covid. Additionally, she emphasised that this would help keep Qatar’s Covid numbers low because booster shots would help maintain a high level of immunity against Covid in the community. According to her, the recent low numbers of daily Covid cases in Qatar are due to the high Covid vaccination rate (over 82% of the entire population) and the implementation of safety measures.
In the same release, the Primary Health Care Corporation’s senior family medicine consultant and executive director of operations, Dr Samya Al Abdulla, confirmed that the booster dose is safe and not associated with major side effects. “The risk of side effects following the booster vaccine dose is no higher than the risk associated with the primary vaccine series,” she said. Dr Al Abdulla noted that over 4.7 million Covid vaccine doses had been given since the start of the national vaccination programme with few side effects. And she says that the ones that have been reported are mainly mild to moderate. These include soreness at the injection site, low-grade fever, body aches, headaches, and fatigue—typical vaccine reactions in general.
The categories eligible for the booster are also considered susceptible to severe influenza (flu) infection. Because of this, local health bodies are encouraging them to get the flu vaccine as part of this year’s “Fight the Flu” campaign. They have also confirmed that it is safe to receive both shots together.