Muscat: Private hospitals in Oman are making preparations to store COVID-19 vaccine doses, as part of a scheme launched by the Ministry of Health to administer the jab to hundreds of thousands of private sector employees.
Companies looking to register their employees need to provide a list of staff willing to get the vaccine to the ministry.
“A few weeks ago, we sent around an email asking all of our employees to register for the vaccine, if they wanted to,” said a spokesperson at a company in Muscat. “Once we received their names, ID card numbers, passport details, and age, we sent this to the Ministry of Health.”
“The ministry, once it receives these details, will accordingly place orders for vaccines, and send it to the private hospitals with which the companies have agreements,” she added. “The hospital will then call us so that we can be given the vaccines.”
The Ministry of Health has set up a Google Form (www.forms.gle/quKvkkrUneYyFYTT9) so companies can easily sign up for the vaccine.
Companies also have to nominate a member of staff to act as a contact person to handle matters related to vaccine registration, as well as name the hospital where they plan on sending their staff to get vaccinated.
Companies also have to transfer the funds to buy the vaccine, and upload proof of the same onto the Google Form. Payments can be made to account number 1016125105001 at the National Bank of Oman, which has been allocated to the COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccine Fund.
Both the company spokesperson and hospital representatives in Oman said vaccines will be distributed to private sector employees on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who register will receive the Pfizer jab, which is expected to be distributed to them from June onwards.
“Companies have to pay a fee of OMR20 per dose, as well as an OMR3 administrative fee,” said Anees PN, the assistant manager for business development at NMC Healthcare Oman.
“This means they will need to pay a total of OMR46 per person for both doses. The vaccine aside, every person from a company who comes to us for a vaccine will also receive a checkup from our GP, and will be observed for 15 minutes after receiving the shot to make sure there are no adverse side effects.
“The costs of vaccination are inclusive of these services as well,” he added. “We already have between 50 and 55 companies signed up with us as part of the vaccination plan, and we expect more to sign up soon, because the details about this initiative were shared just before the Eid holidays. Companies have now had time to make vaccine payments, and share their proofs of purchase with us.”
Employees are recommended to come to hospitals to be administered their vaccines, because of the logistics required to store and transport them: Pfizer jabs need to be stored at temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius, and maintaining that cold chain is not always possible. However, companies that have dedicated clinics set up for their staff can directly order them there through the ministry.
“We recommend employees sign up for these vaccines, because government health centres are providing these to people in the target groups, and it might take time for this to be distributed to the general population,” said Anees.
A doctor at another clinic in Barka said they had registered to be part of the network through which vaccines are to be distributed to private sector companies, but were waiting for more details from the Ministry of Health before accepting registrations.
“We don’t know yet if there will be an age restriction for employees who wish to take the vaccine, so we have approached the ministry in this context,” he said. “We will wait for their response, because we don’t want a situation where we have to turn back company staff because they do not meet the criteria.
“Companies will have also spent a lot of money ordering vaccines for their people, and we don’t want them to have done so wrongly, if they find out certain members of their staff are not eligible,” he added. “Furthermore, we will need to store these vaccines that require freezers that operate at extreme temperatures, which also come at a cost.”