Muscat: Starting today, thousands of people across Oman will be injected with COVID-19 vaccines, as part of efforts to vaccinate more and more members of the public to stop the spread of the pandemic in the country.
As part of the expanded vaccination efforts of the Ministry of Health, during the month of June, all government workers, personnel from the military and the Royal Oman Police, and students attempting their high school diploma exams, and their supervisors, will be vaccinated.
Target groups in June 2021 also include employees in oil and gas, and the country’s ports and airports, people aged 45 and above, citizens in the Governorate of Musandam, and pilgrims. Health workers are to also be vaccinated during this phase of the drive, including those in the private sector who have not received their first doses.
New batches of vaccines have already begun being used to issue second doses to people who have already received their first. On Friday, 4 June, “visitors flocked to take the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at various immunisation centres in the governorate,” said a statement from the Directorate General of Health Service of North Al Batinah.
Vaccination of people aged 45 and above will begin “during the third week of June,” said the Ministry of Health. “Students under the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation will also be vaccinated.”
Health authorities have asked people currently eligible for vaccines to report to their nearest immunisation centre. All those who received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 10 weeks ago are eligible for a second shot.
“To complement the national immunisation campaign against COVID-19, the Directorate General of Health Services in Al Buraimi invites target groups to go to vaccination centres to receive the second doses of their vaccines,” said one such advisory issued.
People in Muscat who need to know the location of their nearest vaccination centre can also contact the MoH call centre on 1144, which operates from 8am to 2pm on weekdays.
The expansion of target vaccination groups comes as part of the ministry’s efforts to immunise 70 percent of the country’s population to stop the spread of the coronavirus. As part of these efforts, the vaccines will be steadily rolled out to everyone in Oman aged 12 and above.
Under this initiative, students attempting their general diploma examination, and their academic supervisors, were vaccinated between 26 May and 3 June.
“Immunisation plans will be implemented in several ways, with the aim of reaching and facilitating beneficiaries of the vaccine,” added the ministry. “Procedures undertaken to reach them include opening immunisation centres across all governorates, and the formation of additional mobile vaccination teams if necessary.”
The expanded vaccination drive comes alongside the removal of a number of restrictions implemented by the Supreme Committee to deal with COVID 19, to stop the spread of the virus in the country.
Marriage halls, exhibition venues and gyms are now once again open, although they must operate at reduced occupancy, shopping malls and restaurants can resume regular work hours, and although children under 12 are allowed in the latter, they must operate at 50 per cent capacity. People can also once again visit parks and beaches, but large-scale gatherings are not allowed.
However, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, the Minister of Health and member of the Supreme Committee, warned that these activities could close once again, should it be found that people are not adhering to the precautions needed to reverse the spread of the disease.
“The numbers decreased before Eid, but gatherings organised during the holidays let to an increase in case numbers, although we hope this will be a temporary rise,” he told Oman News Agency. “The Supreme Committee in all its statements has made it clear that the activities that have been reopened can be closed again, if the correct precautions are not followed.”
Furthermore, the entry ban of passengers travelling from 12 countries – Sudan, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, the UK, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines – has been extended. From 2 pm on Saturday, 5 June, the ban was extended to three more countries: Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.