U.S. official stresses importance of vaccination

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(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN - Rasmi Al-Khazaleh - The Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Heather Burke, stressed the importance of COVID-19 vaccination in mitigating disease transmission including the importance of following Jordan MOH guidance on booster shots for those eligible.اضافة اعلان

"CDC has developed evidence-based vaccination recommendations for the U.S., including age-specific and booster recommendations. While some countries in the region may align their vaccination policies with those of the U.S. CDC, not all do as these protocols are determined by leadership in the countries. The data are, however, clear and compelling that vaccination protects against COVID-19 infection, spread to others, and lessens risk of severe illness if someone does get infected." Dr. Burke told Petra.

Booster shots are now available in Jordan for those aged 18 and older who received their second dose six months ago or longer.

"An extra vaccine dose six months after completion of the initial series will provide longer lasting protective immunity. Benefit exists for all those over 18 eligible for a booster but the data are especially clear that people age 50 years and older and those with underlying medical conditions would benefit from a booster shot. We know the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and for those more medically vulnerable so the decision by Jordan to expand access to booster shots clearly follows the science," said Burke.

Dr. Burke added that "We cannot predict the end of the pandemic, especially as the virus continues to circulate globally. However, we can say that taking the vaccine and adhering to health protocols contributes effectively to reducing the virus spread. Jordan would also benefit from assuring all those aged 12 and up eligible for vaccination are vaccinated, as coverage in Jordan for those aged 12-17 remains very low."

Dr. Burke said that the U.S. CDC is eager to strengthen and expand public health support and collaboration with countries in the Middle East. It, therefore, has established the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa based in Oman in 2020 to help countries in the region fight the COVID-19 epidemic and potential future emerging diseases.

The CDC engages at the request of country leadership with the goal of collaborating on priority public health activities.

"The U.S. CDC provides support to countries in areas such as training, public health preparedness and response, and epidemiology and laboratory strengthening. There are successful experiences within many countries in the world and the Middle East, including Jordan," she said.

Dr. Burke, a Keynote Speaker at the Seventh EMPHNET Regional Conference held in Amman by the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), said their partnership with the Jordan-based network helped the CDC on assessing the epidemiological situation of countries of the region, train staff working in the response to COVID-19 and outbreak investigation thanks to EMPHNET expertise.