The fifth wave of Covid-19 has begun in Pakistan and is being driven by the Omicron variant, which has been detected in several patients across the country. Officials have renewed appeals for citizens to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) and to get vaccinated, including receiving booster vaccine shots.
But, who is eligible for a booster shot and how can they get it?
Are you eligible?
According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), healthcare workers, people who are 30 years or older and immunocompromised individuals above 12 years old can receive a booster dose.
It is important to note, however, that those wanting to get a booster dose must have been administered the second shot of a coronavirus vaccine more than six months ago. Furthermore, if a person tested positive for the virus, they need to wait for 28 days before being eligible for the booster shot.
Which vaccines will be administered?
Sinopharm, Sinovac, Moderna and Pfizer are the four vaccines available as booster shots, with people free to pick any one of their choice.
Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Director General Dr Rana Safdar had earlier told Dawn 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."
The term mix-and-match refers to an arrangement under which a person gets a booster shot of a vaccine that is different from the one he or she had received earlier.
Where can you get vaccinated?
Sindh Health Department's media coordinator Mehar Khursheed said eligible citizens could go to any vaccination centre in the province to get their booster shot. They will need to take their vaccination cards and computerised national identity cards (CNICs).
Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department spokesperson Syed Hammad Raza Bokhari said all district headquarters hospitals (DHQs) and tehsil headquarters hospitals (THQs) are offering doses of the coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for booster shots.
Director General Health Department Niaz Mohammad said doses of all approved vaccines have been provided to vaccination centres across KP for booster shots. Citizens can visit any vaccination centre along with their vaccination card, he added.
According to Ministry of Health spokesperson Sajid Shah, booster shots of Chinese coronavirus vaccines — Sinopharm and Sinovac — are available at all vaccination centres, while Moderna and Pfizer boosters are being administered at mass vaccination centres.
Provincial Covid-19 cell in-charge Dr Naqeebullah said that the process of administering booster shots had begun on Dec 30 and was currently underway in the province.
He said that the booster shot was being administered to citizens that were above 30 years of age. He added that the booster shot would be administered at a gap of six months after vaccination.
The official said that booster shots were available at 96 vaccination centres across the province.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Divisional Monitoring Officer for Covid-19 Vaccination, Shafaq Malik, said booster doses are available at 142 centres in the region. Citizens can get a booster dose of any of the four vaccines approved for the purpose.
In December, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that people who are immunocompromised or received an inactivated Covid-19 vaccine (such as Sinopharm and Sinovac) should receive a booster dose to protect against waning immunity.
Initially, the NCOC allowed booster shots only for health workers, people over 50 and immunocompromised individuals but later expanded it to include those aged 30 and above as well starting January 1.
Additional input by Imran Gabol from Lahore, Sirajuddin from Peshawar, Ghalib Nihad from Balochistan, Ikram Junaidi from Islamabad and Tariq Naqash from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.