The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) Sunday urged individuals who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine booster dose not to delay their vaccination appointment to ensure they continue to have high levels of protection against the virus.

Since 15 September 2021, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) has been administering Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccine booster doses to eligible high-risk individuals who had their second dose of the vaccine more than eight months ago. The eligibility criteria include people over 50 years of age; those who are immunocompromised; and those with chronic conditions which increase their risk for severe Covid-19, regardless of their age.

Dr. Soha Al Bayat, Head of Vaccination at MoPH, stressed the importance of the booster dose for eligible individuals. "It is clear from the latest clinical evidence that for most people the protective immunity obtained from the first two doses of the vaccine gradually begins to decline after eight months. Everyone currently eligible for a booster dose is considered to be at high risk of severe Covid-19 infection due to either their age or health status. For this reason, it is essential that people act quickly and come forward for their booster dose appointment when invited," she said.

"The current Covid-19 status in Qatar is very promising. Thanks to the high rates of vaccination among our community and strong compliance to the preventive measures, the number of new daily Covid-19 cases has remained low in recent weeks. However, it is important that we do not become complacent. We know that individuals who received their second dose more than eight months ago will most likely begin to lose some of their immunity against the virus. Unless they receive their booster vaccine, they will be more vulnerable to severe infection," added Dr. Al Bayat.

Dr. Samya Al Abdulla, Senior Consultant of Family Medicine and Executive Director of Operations at PHCC, explained that vaccine booster doses have been proven to be safe and are not associated with any significant side effects.

"Clinical evidence from Qatar and around the world shows booster doses to be safe and effective. The risk of side effects following the booster vaccine dose is no higher than the risk associated with the primary vaccine series. Since the start of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Program, and following the administration of more than 4.7 million vaccine doses, we have only seen a small number of people reporting very mild or modest side effects including low-grade fever, mild headache, fatigue and soreness at the injection site, which is commonly seen with other vaccines," she said.

"Our teams at PHCC are contacting people who are eligible for the booster vaccine dose directly to set an appointment and I encourage these individuals to receive their booster vaccine without delay to ensure they continue to be protected against Covid-19," added Dr. Al Abdulla.