Health workers to get anti-Covid booster shots

Sindh to administer Pfizer jabs to 150,000 public, private healthcare professionals


Sameer Mandhro September 17, 2021

KARACHI:

The Sindh government has decided to administer booster doses of the coronavirus vaccines to all healthcare workers in the province beginning next week.

 In a letter sent to the National Command and Operation Centre on Thursday, the Sindh health department stated that the constant exposure of doctors and paramedical staff to patients makes them highly vulnerable to the infection.

Given the high-risk exposure, the provincial government has decided to give a third dose of the vaccine to all public and private healthcare workers.

“To reduce the infection rate amongst the healthcare workers and to enhance immunity, it has been decided to inoculate all healthcare workers of Sindh with additional dose of Pfizer vaccine,” stated the letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.

The total number of healthcare staff working in public and private hospitals and laboratories was said to be around 150,000.

Read more: Covid death toll tops 27,000

 Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sindh health department officials claimed that nearly all healthcare workers have been inoculated against the deadly virus with the first and second jabs.

They will be given booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to further strengthen immunisation, confirmed officials. “It [the booster shot campaign] is expected to begin next week,” said Sindh health department spokesperson Atif Vighio.

He added that the letter was sent to inform the NCOC and to get their approval. The NCOC has signed off on administering booster doses of the vaccine to citizens after charging them Rs1,270.

The provision was made last month to facilitate foreign travel of those who had received shots of the Chinese vaccines as a number of countries require the administration of American or British vaccines for travellers.

The healthcare workers in Sindh will be given Pfizer jabs free of charge, said Vighio. “They are at maximum risk,” he added.

 The World Health Organisation has suggested booster jabs in certain cases such as when the immunisation by previous jabs is waning or for persons who are immunocompromised.

 In most cases, however, the WHO has maintained that the vaccines appear to be holding up well and the mandatory two doses should suffice.

The Sindh government had started inoculating healthcare workers when the immunisation process began early this year. “It was a successful drive,” said Vighio, adding that all those who will receive booster shots have already been registered. When asked, health officials confirmed that the provincial government has sufficient doses to complete the week-long drive.

Endorsing Sindh government’s initiative, Dr SM Qaisar Sajjad, the secretary general of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), said that healthcare workers were already at increased risk given their exposure to patients and this is a welcome move.

“We have lost many doctors,” he added. The pandemic has claimed the lives of at least 228 doctors across Pakistan, said Dr Sajjad. “We do not want to lose another doctor.” Dr Sajjad was of the view that booster doses are being given in other countries.

 “I will suggest that the NCOC gets proper information and devise a uniform policy for all healthcare workers of the country.”

He said that he was not sure if everyone will be given the booster dose or those who got their second dose three months or four months back will receive the jabs. “There is a need for scientific study when to inoculate the booster dose.”

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