Muscat – The Ministry of Health (MoH) has included the rotavirus vaccine in the National Immunisation Programme schedule in response to a pressing health issue. Announced during the launch of the fourth edition of the National Immunisation Programme and Omani Immunisation Manual at W Muscat Hotel on Monday, the move aims to combat the high incidence of rotavirus infections in the country.
A leading cause of severe diarrhoeal diseases among infants and young children, rotavirus is a significant health burden on Oman, with annual cases estimated at 60,000, including around 6,000 hospitalisations. Symptoms include fever, watery diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration, significantly impacting young children’s health.
The vaccine will be administered in two doses orally to children born after November 1, 2023 – the first dose at two months and the second at four months of age.
H E Dr Hilal bin Ali al Sabti, Minister of Health, emphasised MoH’s commitment to advancing health initiatives and ensuring equality and accessibility in vaccination. He highlighted the crucial role of vaccines in building a healthy community that meets international standards.
Underlining the national and global impact of rotavirus, H E Dr Saeed bin Harib al Lamki, Undersecretary for Health Affairs in MoH, pointed out the significant burden of rotavirus-related diarrhoeal diseases. He stressed that the vaccine’s inclusion in the immunisation schedule is expected to drastically reduce hospital admissions due to rotavirus.
The Omani Immunisation Manual, issued via Ministerial Decision No 274/2023, outlines the role and responsibilities of medical staff and technical directorates with the aim of enhancing the immunisation programme’s efficiency.
Oman has achieved significant milestones in immunisation, including being declared free of measles and rubella by World Health Organization in 2019 and achieving the highest global rates in Effective Vaccine Management in 2016. The National Immunisation Programme currently includes 14 approved vaccines, with coverage rate exceeding 99%, leading to a marked decrease in morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases among children, particularly infants and children under five.