pakistan covid vaccine
A resident receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a facility in Karachi in a file photo. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: The health department of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province has made the COVID-19 vaccine booster mandatory for all fully vaccinated citizens amid global concerns over the spread of the new Omicron strain of COVID-19.

Sindh health officials have made available booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to prevent the risk of transmission and re-infection. The booster jab would be offered to people already vaccinated with any of the Chinese vaccines, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Cansino.

The facility for the free-of-charge booster jab is currently available at the Dow University of Health Sciences and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi city.

The discovery of the new variant has alerted health officials around the world as countries are racing to halt air travel. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the new strain Omicron as a variant of concern which has an increased risk of reinfection. The variant first detected in South Africa has now been reported in several African and European countries.

Pakistan has suspended the entry of travellers from six African countries South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini and also Hong Kong to contain the spread of the new variant.

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) has asked aviation authorities to ban entry from seven countries and to devise a mechanism for the screening of passengers travelling from these states through indirect flights.

Minister Asad Umar, who heads the NCOC, has urged Pakistanis to get vaccinated soon. Pakistan, a country of 220 million, has so far administered 122 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines with nearly 50 million Pakistanis fully vaccinated and 80 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine.