SCH to begin Tdap vaccination drive

February 20, 2013 - 3:32:10 am

Zainab Warda (inset), Nursing Specialist at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH), addressing a Tdap Vaccine Workshop organised by the SCH at the Doha Sheraton yesterday. (Salim Matramkot)

By Isabel Ovalle

DOHA: The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) expects approximately 10,000 students to get vaccinated next month against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). The vaccination campaign will kick off on March 3 and last 14 days.

Over 200 healthcare professionals, including nurses from schools and Primary Health Centres, attended a workshop yesterday to learn details of the vaccination drive which will cover 60 independent schools and 61 private schools.

Amal Al Yafei (pictured above), head of EPI Section at the SCH, told The Peninsula that the campaign is against three diseases year. Earlier it was only for tetanus and diphtheria. “It’s especially for grade 10 students, when children are between 14 and 16 years of age. Previously it was only for tetanus and diphtheria. It is extended to pertussis because this vaccine is the only one that gives prevention into adulthood.”

Currently there are no cases of tetanus or diphtheria in Qatar, however, there are a few pertussis cases. “Sometimes the symptoms can be confused with a regular cold,” said Al Yafei.

The campaign will be advertised in the upcoming days for parents’ awareness. They have to sign the consent form to allow the vaccination to be given from March 3 to March 17. “The consent form explains that it is highly recommended to get the vaccine. The Tdap is the only vaccine that can protect the child from pertussis in adulthood,” said the official. 

This vaccine has to be given every 10 years, if a baby is born in Qatar he or she will take only five doses, the last one will be given when the child is from four to six years. In grade 10 students are usually old enough to get the booster dose, with approximately a decade passing since the last one. 

In 2012 the number of youngsters who were vaccinated was 8,000. This year SCH hopes to reach between 8,000 and 10,000. “We try to have all the parents agree, because there is no harm if the student is healthy and taking no medication. Contra-indications might come only if the kid has immunodeficiency problems or allergic reaction,” explained Al Yafei.

Common reactions to the vaccine may include fever, soreness, swelling or redness where the shot is given. However, the vaccine is very safe, much more than getting tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis, SCH has said.

The Peninsula