JEDDAH: Saudi residents can look forward to free, optional coronavirus vaccination set to start before the end of the year following the Kingdom’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week.
Dr. Hani Jokhdar, Saudi deputy minister for public health, said that inoculations with the vaccine will begin before the end of the year, with the first supplies due to arrive in the Kingdom within days.
Appearing on the Saudi news channel Al-Ekhbariya, Dr. Mazen Hassanain, managing director of the SaudiVax pharmaceuticals company, said that vaccines will be optional for the public.
The Health Ministry said that the first phase of the immunization campaign, due to start before the end of the year, will continue until March.
Priority will be given to those above the age of 65, healthcare workers, the obese, individuals on auto-immune suppressants or suffering from auto-immune diseases, and those with chronic illnesses.
The second phase will run from March until June, and will include those above the age of 50 and those suffering from asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cancer.
Teachers and educators will be included in the inoculation phase starting July, while private and government sector workers will be given the vaccine from next September.
The ministry said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for all residents from next September in designated centers. Saudi Arabia recorded 168 new coronavirus cases on Friday, raising the total to 359,583.
Five regions recorded numbers in single digits. The Riyadh region recorded 45 cases, followed by Makkah with 35 and the Eastern Province with 27.
The number of active cases fell to 3,452 yesterday, with 526 in critical care.
A further 236 recoveries brought the total to 350,108, with the Kingdom’s recovery rate holding steady at 97.3 percent.
Eleven people died due to complications from the infection, raising the overall death toll to 6,023.
A total of 41,267 polymerase chain reaction tests were carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 10.3 million.