Iran’s coronavirus task force has expanded eligibility for booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines to all adults as the country seeks to prevent a fresh surge in the number of infections.
A senior official in Iran’s National Headquarters for Battling Coronavirus (NHBC) said on Sunday that members of the task force’s scientific board had unanimously signed off on the expanded eligibility for a third coornavirus shot.
“How the program will be carried out and its timetable will be publicized by the health ministry’s Center for Management of Contagious Diseases,” said Hamid Reza Jama’ati, who serves as the secretary of the NHBC’s scientific board.
Iran started its COVID-19 booster program for immunocompromised and frontline health workers last month. Health ministry figures published on Sunday showed that more than 950,000 shots have been delivered under the scheme.
However, authorities insist that expanding booster shots to all adults will prevent a new wave of infections now that more than half of Iran’s population of over 85 million has been fully vaccinated against the disease.
The announcement on booster coronavirus vaccine comes amid reports that a new variant of the disease dubbed Omicron could trigger a new surge in infections around the world.
Jama’ati said that Omicron had started to spread in south of Africa mainly because of relatively poor vaccination rates in countries in the region as he insisted that booster dose program will be one of Iran’s main defenses against the variant.
“These issues were discussed in the (NHBC’s) scientific board and the need for higher vaccination coverage, observing hygiene protocols and injection of the booster shot were emphasized,” he said.
Expanded vaccine coverage has helped Iran drastically reduce its coronavirus deaths from peaks of over 700 reported over the summer to below 100 these days.