Muscat: Almost every child in Oman has been immunised, giving the country one of the highest vaccination rates across the world.
According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), 97.2 per cent of Omani children living across the Sultanate who are below the age of five have had all their prescribed vaccine shots.
The annual report of MoH showed that 98 per cent of children in Oman are protected against polio and measles, with 97.5 per cent safe from tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
The same number has been vaccinated against Hepatitis B and Influenza with 96.9 per cent having had the MMR protection against measles, mumps and rubella.
MoH officials confirmed that child immunisation is free of cost for both Omani and non-Omani children in government hospitals. However, a certain amount is charged at privately-owned hospitals for certain vaccinations including tetanus shots if required.
Both locals and expats living in Oman could face punishment for failing to have their child immunised. A MoH spokesperson told Times of Oman: “Child Protection Committees laws have supported and strengthened defaulter tracing. Article (19) of Child Law (Royal Decree 22/2014) states that the child shall have the right to free immunisation with serums and vaccines against contagious diseases in government health institutions.”
“Immunisation may also be conducted in private institutions authorised by the MoH. The guardian must commit to immunise his or her child in accordance with the immunisation systems and schedule issued by the MoH and the health institutions must record all corresponding data in the child’s health card”.
A doctor from one of the private hospitals explained the process of how to register for free vaccinations at the public health centres.
“After the delivery, we examine the baby and put all the details of his/her weight, length and all that is required to prepare a letter that needs to be provided at the public health centre for registration.”
“The parents then take the letter to their nearest health centre and register for free vaccinations. Upon completion, they are given a book that helps them to keep a track of the vaccination shots and when they are due,” the doctor told us.
As immunisation is the most effective and safe way to protect children from vaccine-preventable disease, MoH recommends that all children in the country should be vaccinated.
“All children, Omani and non-Omani, should be vaccinated against the 12 preventable childhood diseases free of charge,” the official said.
“The immunisation service is optimised to ensure that the service is delivered to children by opening two shifts per day depending on the need in all PHCs providing immunisation services,” the doctor said.
He added that all children should have a child health register number and child health card to maintain all vaccine documentations.