Muscat: Starting next week, students across Oman will be administered COVID-19 vaccinations at school, as part of the efforts of the Ministry of Health to immunise people against the virus and reduce its spread.
“All students in private and government schools, inclusive of foreign students, will be administered the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccines,” confirmed a ministry official.“This will begin next week.”
The Ministry of Health aims to vaccinate some 339,661 students across the country. So far, 277,381 students have been administered one dose, while 28,149 have been jabbed twice. 90 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 17 across the country have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Nasir Nawaz, the senior principal of the Pakistan School System in Oman, said there were a number of students returning from Pakistan who would benefit from this.
“We have about 10 per cent of our students in Muscat who were not vaccinated, because they had gone back to Pakistan during the pandemic,” he said. “But in Pakistan, the vaccine is only being administered to those aged 18 and above, so they could not get vaccinated. For them, this is an excellent step because it will help them get vaccinated quickly.
“To all the parents and students who are a bit reluctant to get their children vaccinated, I say do it at the earliest, so that both they, and those around them, are protected,” he added.
Parents of school-going students were happy to hear of this latest development. Dr Ajit Kumar, whose children attend an Indian school in the capital, was very happy to hear of this phase of the vaccination drive, because he feels it will help children return to school faster.
“I want to thank the Ministry of Health for their efforts,” said Kumar. “Fortunately, my daughter, who is in class X, has already been vaccinated twice, but there are many parents who were unable to get their children vaccinated with both doses, for a number of reasons. This announcement will bring them plenty of relief and satisfaction.”
He hoped that with more students now being inoculated against COVID-19, there would be an accelerated return to physical classes.
“Online classes were needed, but the best learning happens face to face, and that is what our children have missed for the last 18 months,” said Kumar. “Both my daughter and my younger son are very excited to go back to school, because they have not been able to see their classmates for so long.”
“It would be good if schools make class X and XII fully physical, because those are the crucial academic years for students, and that is when face to face learning is most required for them,” he added.
Another parent, Shibu Hassan, also hoped the vaccination drive would lead to a faster return to physical classes, and enable children to freely move around, without fear of infection, or infecting others.
“These days, wherever you go, be it a shopping mall, a restaurant, or any other public place, you are required to show proof of vaccination, since this is the best way to beat the virus right now,” he said.
“Those who refuse to take vaccines are sadly putting themselves and others in harm’s way, and this is true for students as well, because there will be plenty of interaction with others at school.”
“We had no choice but to keep our children at home and educate them through online learning, because of the pandemic, but it meant they were also wasting a lot of time because they could not do anything else,” added Hassan. “This vaccination effort at school is a good idea, because it will help immunise more people faster.”
The vaccination campaign for students aged 12 and above was launched on August 3, under the joint efforts of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health. At the time, some 320,000 students were targeted for vaccinations, with 90,000 of them in Muscat Governorate.
So far, 4.33 million vaccine doses have been administered to 76.3 per cent of the targeted population in Oman. 2.71 million people have been provided one dose, while 1.626 million have been jabbed twice.