Today, Qatar started administering the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people as it began a COVID-19 vaccination programme on 23 December. Dr. Abdullah Al Kubaisi, the former President of Qatar University, was the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at Al Wajba Health Center today.
“This is an important moment and it is the glimmer of hope that we have been waiting for. We hope that this will be the beginning of a comprehensive and effective national campaign to vaccinate the majority of the population of Qatar in the coming weeks. I would like to stress that the vaccination is safe and effective and there is a great desire from the public to have it. There will be many citizens and residents who will receive text messages in the coming period from the Primary Health Care Corporation informing them that it is their turn to get the vaccine,” Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, the head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation and the Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 said.
He also urged everyone to get the vaccination and to express their willingness if a call comes to inform them that it is their turn to receive the vaccination.
Commenting on the start of the vaccination campaign, H.E. Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Mohamad Al Kuwari said, "As directed by HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, we have worked hard, along with our partners across government, since the early stages of vaccine development at the start of the pandemic to ensure Qatar was among the first countries in the world to provide a safe, effective and approved COVID-19 vaccine totally free for its population. The vaccination of Dr. Abdulla Al Kubaisi marks the start of what will be the largest national vaccination program in the history of our country."
"I am proud and honored to be the first person to be vaccinated in Qatar," Dr. Al Kubaisi, a former Qatar University professor, said following his vaccination. "This has been a very difficult year for me and my family, living with the constant threat of the virus and fear for my health. I would like to thank the leadership of our country for their actions to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and for their efforts in bringing the vaccine to Qatar so quickly."
"I have listened to the advice and instructions from health officials throughout this pandemic and they have my full trust. Receiving the vaccine this morning has given me hope for a gradual return to normal life. I encourage anyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine to embrace the opportunity and get the vaccine as soon as possible," added Dr. Kubaisi.
Following the vaccination of Dr. Al Kubaisi, Mohammed Frazat, an 88-year-old Syrian resident, became the second person in Qatar to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
During the first phase of the campaign vaccines will be prioritized for those most at risk of severe complications from the virus: people 70 years of age and older, those with multiple chronic conditions, and healthcare workers with repeated exposure to COVID-19.
"The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine we are utilizing has met all safety and efficacy standards and has been approved by the European Union's medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the Ministry of Public Health's Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Control for emergency use," said Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation.
Related news about the COVID-19 vaccine:
Sources: Al Raya; Qatar News Agency
Cover image source: Ahal Qatar
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