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People who have older parents and grandparents should take time to talk to their elderly relatives about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage them to get vaccinated, a medical expert has advised.
Speaking in a video posted on the Ministry of Public Health/Hamad Medical Corporation social media platforms, Qatar’s National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing and Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI), Dr Hanadi Al Hamad, said, “We know that some older people are still reluctant to take the vaccine even though we now have a huge amount of evidence in Qatar which proves beyond doubt that the vaccine is completely safe.
“I urge everyone who has elderly relatives to take time out to speak with them to help them overcome their fears about the vaccine and to support them in getting an appointment with their local health centre without delay.”
She stressed the need for people above 60 years of age to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
“Since the start of the pandemic more than 12 months ago, it has been clear that age is the biggest risk factor for COVID-19. People over the age of 60 have a significantly higher risk of developing severe complications and even death due to the virus. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is for older people to get vaccinated. Now that we have an approved and effective vaccine, elderly residents and citizens have an opportunity to become protected and live free from the threat of this virus,” Dr Hamad noted.
According to her, the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Qatar has sadly resulted in four deaths of people over 60 years of age in the past few days.
She added that in the recent weeks, there has been a significant increase in the number of people requiring admissions to intensive care unit (ICU) due to the severe complications from COVID-19.
“As many elderly people have existing long-term medical conditions, they are more susceptible to severe complications and so they account for a large proportion of COVID-19 related ICU admissions,” she said.
Answering a question on whether they are seeing any long-term effects of COVID-19 on the elderly, Dr Hamad said, “Due to their increased vulnerability and often weakened immune systems, the elderly are more susceptible to long-term complications due to COVID-19. Even if they recover from their immediate severe symptoms, many elderly people experience what is known as ‘long-covid’. Symptoms of long-covid can last several weeks or months and include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, and problems with memory and concentration.”
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