ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday allowed booster shots for people over the age of 30 years as Covid-19’s latest strain, Omicron, infects 58,000 people in 95 countries.

On the other hand, as a large number of people have been denied travel by several countries because of vaccine “discrimination”, mix-and-match booster vaccine shots have been permitted free of cost.

The term mix-and-match refers to an arrangement under which a person gets a booster shot of a vaccine which is different from the one he/she had received earlier.

People over the age of 50 years and immune-compromised persons were earlier allowed to get free booster jabs of the same vaccine they had received earlier.

However, a large number of people intending to go abroad could not do so as many nations were allowing quarantine-free entry only to those inbound passengers who had been administered the vaccine approved by them. Therefore, the government introduced a paid mix-and-match booster facility for travellers to spare them quarantine.

Talking to Dawn, Director General, Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), Dr Rana Safdar, said booster doses of choice would be given to people.

“It means that mix and match has been allowed or booster of the same company, which was administered earlier, can be given as per choice of the people,” he said.

Dr Safdar said people over the age of 30 years could get booster shots from Jan 1 for free.

Meanwhile, the NCOC on Monday discussed the epidemic curve chart data, national vaccine strategy and disease prevalence across the country.

According to a statement, the forum agreed to take strict measures to enforce obligatory vaccination regime and reviewed province-wise vaccination targets.

It said a total of 141,509,339 doses had been administered till date.

“Omicron variant has been reported in 95 countries, with 58,000 confirmed cases till now,” the statement said, adding that Europe was the epicentre, and the United Kingdom and Denmark had the highest number of patients.

It further said 149 confirmed cases of Omicron had so far been recorded in India.

The NCOC once again urged people to get fully inoculated to save themselves from getting infected by the new variant.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2021

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