Second phase of coronavirus vaccination to begin Thursday

Saudi physician prepares to inject a Pfizer vaccine at a new coronavirus vaccination center, at the Jeddah old airport, Saudi Arabia. (File photo: AP)

The Ministry of Health announced that the second phase of the coronavirus vaccination program would start on Thursday, Feb. 18. Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Health Dr. Abdullah Asiri said that all the currently approved coronavirus vaccines will have two doses. And it is expected that the vaccine will achieve its results in protecting the body with only one dose.

“There will be expansion of priorities in administering the first dose. In addition to the expansion of vaccination to various regions of the Kingdom. Besides, increasing the number of daily appointments for administering the vaccine,” he also said.

Leap in registered citizens for the vaccination

According to Dr. Asiri, the turnout of citizens to register for the vaccination recorded a leap following the receiving of the vaccine by King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

“The number of citizens who turned out for the registration reached two million, and we target to complete the vaccination of the remaining 26 million citizens by the end of 2021.”

He stressed that there is no class in administering vaccines in Saudi Arabia, saying: “No citizen or resident in Saudi Arabia will be given a vaccine except the one that we accept for all.

“What is agreed upon with Pfizer is 10 million doses for the Kingdom, and there are attempts to add these numbers,” he said while noting that the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be given the go ahead for vaccination until after approval by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Anti-coronavirus efforts of $500mn

Dr. Asiri announced that Saudi Arabia has so far paid $500 million for efforts to combat coronavirus, and this amount placed it as the third or fourth country to contribute to efforts to stop the pandemic worldwide, and these efforts have a primary goal of equitable distribution of vaccines.

He called on those who receive the vaccine to adhere to the precautionary measures. “The vaccine protects him as a person; but it does not prevent him from carrying the coronavirus and transmitting it to others,” he said.

Schools to start after 70% vaccination

Dr. Asiri said that halting of physical studies in Saudi Arabia has contributed to preventing the second wave of the pandemic. The decision to continue distance learning has prevented us from the second wave.

“The return of students to school cannot take place before we reach herd immunity; by vaccinating 70 percent of citizens and residents above 17 years of age. We must vaccinate 28 million before the start of school,” he also added.