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Saudi Arabia begins largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign Health Minister Al-Rabiah was first to receive shot
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 12 - 2020

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has begun the largest vaccination campaign against COVID-19, with Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah becoming the first citizen to receive the vaccine.
On Thursday, TV footage showed Al-Rabiah receiving the first dose of the vaccine, and announcing that "today is the beginning of the breakthrough of a crisis." The minister's move aims to reassure citizens and expatriates about the safety of the vaccine. "The vaccine will be optional and not compulsory," he clarified.
Dr. Al-Rabiah stressed that the largest vaccination process in the Kingdom began in line with the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and with direct and regular follow-up from Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to launch the vaccination process. "We are keen to provide doses to all," he said after receiving the shots.
Citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom began to receive the vaccine free of charge. The minister said: "We will have vaccine centers in all regions of the Kingdom. We are keen to make the vaccine safe and provide doses against coronavirus for everyone."
After receiving the vaccine, Dr. Al-Rabiah said: "I took the vaccine at the first vaccination center, which has more than 550 clinics, and we will have vaccination centers in all regions. During the last nine months, I have been following with concern the numbers of infections, and today I will start following up the numbers of those receiving vaccination."
For its part, the Infectious Diseases Committee confirmed that the vaccination process includes initially the elderly, while the Food and Drug Committee stressed that the corona vaccine, which was approved in Saudi Arabia, is safe.
Earlier on Wednesday, Al-Rabiah announced the arrival of the first batch of the vaccine to the Kingdom. He lauded the compliance of citizens and expatriates as well as companies to implementing the precautionary measures and preventive protocols, saying that this has been instrumental in bringing down the number of coronavirus infections in the Kingdom.
The Ministry of Health has stated that the total number of individuals who have registered via "Sehhaty" (My Health) application to take the vaccine reached 150,000 since the launch of the registration on Tuesday until the afternoon of Wednesday. The ministry urged everyone to speed up registration in order to preserve their health and safety and protect themselves from being infected by the coronavirus.
The ministry announced on Tuesday the start of registration for the coronavirus vaccine for all citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom free of charge. They can register, through the ministry's mobile application of Sehhaty in the link of http://onelink.to/yjc3nj.
The ministry explained that the vaccination will be administered over three phases. The first phase will cover citizens and expatriates over the age of 65 years; health and other professionals who are most vulnerable to infection during their fight with the pandemic as well as people, who are obese, and those who have immunodeficiency, and those who suffer from two or more of the chronic diseases.
The second phase covers all the above categories of citizens and expatriates who are over the age of 50 while the targeted group in the third phase includes all citizens and expatriates who wish to receive the vaccine.


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