Oman has reserved 200,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will help boost the vaccination campaign in the country, according to H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health.
The US FDA advisory panel endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on Friday, a critical step paving the way to distribute the third vaccine – after Pfizer and Moderna – in the US soon.
A third vaccine is also seen as a vital step to ramp up the immunisation drive in Oman. “Everyone can rest assured that the sultanate will not take any step without first making sure of the safety and efficacy of any vaccine imported,” H E Dr Saeedi said.
“Vaccination reduces disease, number of hospitalisations, complications and deaths. Some people still do not trust the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and insist on receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Many people have so far relied on social media rumours on vaccines,” he added.
H E Dr Sa’eedi said that private healthcare institutions will also receive their share of vaccines as soon as there are enough doses. “Once we expand the immunisation drive after receiving adequate numbers, we will also distribute doses to the private sector,” he said, adding that individuals older than 60 will be immunised starting this week. The earlier campaign targeted persons aged 65 and older irrespective of health status.
Meanwhile, a health passport for COVID-19 among the GCC states is under discussion, according to Dr Saif bin Salim al Abri, director general of Disease Surveillance and Control in MoH.
A vaccination passport is a document that proves the holder is vaccinated against COVID-19.
“A study is under way for a COVID-19 health passport project that will allow GCC travellers to travel freely without any obstacles for those who have been vaccinated. In a week’s time, the initiative will be launched,” Dr Abri said on Thursday, adding that institutional isolation is currently compulsory for those who have taken the vaccine.
The MoH is planning to vaccinate 60 per cent of the population soon. “The main goal currently, however, is to vaccinate 20 per cent of the target groups,” Dr Abri said.
Dr Salem Hamdan Salem al Tamimi, senior consultant pediatrician, clinical immunologist and allergist at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, said, “No serious complications have been reported among those vaccinated. Any vaccine with an efficacy of more than 50 per cent is considered acceptable by the World Health Organization.”