Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | Muharram 17, 1444 H
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Shed vaccine hesitancy


Vaccination campaigns across the world have been telling a few interesting stories to say, including in the Sultanate of Oman. While the countries with efficient healthcare systems managed to secure vaccines and administer them to their population, they still struggled to vaccinate five to six per cent of the population that refused to join the bandwagon.

Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, expressed concern over the reluctance on the part of some residents and citizens to take the vaccine, despite its proven effectiveness in preventing deaths. Of the target groups, around four per cent of Omanis are yet to get the first dose and 10 per cent the second dose.

Among expatriates, 10 per cent are yet to take the first dose and 17 per cent the second dose.

According to Dr Zakaria bin Yahya al Balushi, Consultant of Infectious Diseases at the Royal Hospital, “The third dose is one of the important strategies to control the virus in society and maintain epidemiological stability.” “Even if you are not convinced of the vaccine, do not just pass on the same thought to the people, especially the elderly, which may prove costly if they did not receive the vaccine,” said a senior health expert based at MoH.

Several citizens and residents have told the Observer that they prefer to wait for the boosters as they are not yet convinced of its requirement at this stage.

With Omicron spreading faster than expected, countries are hurrying up with campaigns to offer boosters though they have not yet vaccinated the target groups with the second dose.

The WHO recently issued interim guidance on booster doses, expressing concern that ‘mass programmes for countries that can afford them, will exacerbate vaccine inequity’.

Currently, around 20 per cent of all vaccine doses administered are being given as boosters or additional doses. “Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” said the WHO.

It stressed that the priority must be on supporting countries to vaccinate 40 per cent of their populations as quickly as possible, and 70 per cent by the middle of 2022.

“It’s important to remember that the vast majority of hospitalisations and deaths are in unvaccinated people, not un-boosted people,” he said. “And we must be very clear that the vaccines we have, remain effective against both the Delta and Omicron variants.”

Covid killed 3.5 million people this year and continues to claim some 50,000 lives each week.

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