Sindh allows booster shots amid omicron concerns

KARACHI: The government of Sindh has allowed the administration of Pfizer booster shot aimed at curtailing the spread of omicron, a new heavily mutated Covid-19 strain.

Sindh Health Secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shah said on Sunday that a decision in this regard has been taken by the provincial government and a notification will be issued soon.

He said that all fully vaccinated individuals can avail the facility which will be provided free-of-cost by the Sindh government, adding that the decision was taken amid fears of a new Covid-19 wave in the province.

Zulfiqar said that currently, the Pfizer vaccine is only available at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Dow University of Health Sciences’ (DUHS) Ojha campus. However, he added, efforts were being made to make booster shots available in other health facilities of the province as well.

The variant, now known as Omicron, has cast doubt on global efforts to fight the pandemic because of fears that it is highly infectious, forcing countries to reimpose measures many had hoped were a thing of the past. Scientists are racing to determine the threat posed by the heavily mutated strain – particularly whether it can evade existing vaccines.

Several countries have also announced plans to restrict travel from southern Africa, where it was first detected. On Saturday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) banned the entry of travellers from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana and Hong Kong.

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