The public apprehensions about possible side effects of the H1N1 vaccine were reflected in a survey conducted by a local Arabic daily, with a majority of the participants saying that they would not go for the vaccination.
The online survey by Al Sharq daily had 78 per cent of the respondents saying no to the vaccine while 15 per cent were in favour. The remaining seven per cent didn’t express any views.
The survey reinforces the controversy raging in the country about the positive and negative aspects of the H1N1 vaccine. Senior health officials had stated that the H1N1 vaccine was expected here early next month. The plan is to import two million doses of the vaccine by December to meet the requirements of the entire population in Qatar.
The authorities have also made it cleat that the vaccine would be made mandatory only for Haj pilgrims. It will be optional for all other categories.
Reacting to the survey, Jassim Fakhroo, Director of Communications and Media Department at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said the negative reports about the vaccine in the visual and print media had influenced the survey results.
“People who are not specialists on the subject are passing judgments about the vaccine. Dentists and beauticians are giving their opinion through the media without any consideration about the seriousness of the issue,” said Fakhroo.
“How could someone think that we will put the health of our people at risk. We are also part of the society. There is a need to build confidence among people about the health authorities. People will naturally be hesitant to accept new things. We can not blame them for this,” he added.
Dr Iyad Al Shukrji, a medical expert said he would be among the first to go for the vaccine once it is made available in the country. He said the procedures adopted by Qatar regarding H1N1 were more advanced compared to several developing countries.
“Emails and SMS are spreading about dangers of the vaccine. People should rely on official sources, instead of believing rumours. The authorities have already warned the public against such rumours,” he added.
Fahd Mohammed Al Dosari and Umm Abdul Aziz, both nationals, held the view that despite the apprehensions, people in Qatar had always put their trust on the authorities.
The commitment of the government to protect the health of the people is evident from the various measures being adopted against the spread of H1N1 in the country, they noted.
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