What vaccinations are mandatory when you move to Qatar, and which immunizations are recommended for infectious diseases and illnesses?
If you’re planning on moving to Qatar, it’s a good idea to first make sure you’re up-to-date with any vaccinations requirements. It’s also important to know what immunizations your children will – or can – have as a matter of course.
The healthcare system in Qatar is one of the best in the world, after significantly investing in its medical infrastructure over the past few decades. However, while expats can access the country’s public health services, it is not free of charge.
This guide will explain everything you need to know about your family’s vaccinations in Qatar, including:
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Qatar’s vaccination system
The Ministry of Public Health oversees vaccinations in Qatar. There are currently 12 vaccinations that make up part of the national health program, providing immunity against 14 diseases.
These include whooping cough, diptheria, tetanus, and pneumonia.
Anyone can access healthcare, including vaccinations, in Qatar. However, expats have to pay to use the public healthcare system but can opt for private healthcare instead.
These vaccines aren’t mandated by law, as such, but are a listed requirement if you want to get a Hamad Health Card, which gives access to lower public healthcare fees.
There’s also a list of optional vaccines, such as an annual influenza vaccine, and certain vaccines for those living in areas where certain diseases are endemic.
Vaccinations are offered at hospitals and health centers throughout Qatar; the Ministry of Public Health provides a list of governmental health facilities.
Insurance for vaccinations in Qatar
Health insurance in Qatar is not compulsory, but most people tend to have public or private health insurance anyway.
Public healthcare is comprehensive, but essentially for Qatari citizens. It can be subsidized for residents. Expats can access public healthcare, but must pay the required fees.
Once you become a resident, you can apply to the Hamad Medical Corporation for a Hamad Health Card, which will give lower fees in public facilities.
However, some people opt to take out additional private health insurance, or have it provided through their employer. It can be preferential due to services having shorter queues and access to more English-speaking staff.
As an expat, getting private health insurance can be a good idea since you’ll have to pay for public healthcare anyway, and it can give you more choice.
When choosing a private healthcare provider, you should check the package carefully – some only cover certain hospitals and charges, and vaccine coverage can also vary.
International health companies that operate in Qatar include:
Vaccinations for children in Qatar
Qatar’s standard vaccine program immunizes children against 14 diseases.
The Ministry of Public Health has the full list of routine and further recommended immunizations from a child’s birth until they reach 18 years old. You can use the online portal to keep track of which vaccines your child has received.
In Qatar, the routine childhood vaccination schedule goes in this order:
- BCG and Hepatitis B vaccines: after birth
- Hepatitis B, HiB, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Accellular Pertussis, Polio, Rotavirus and PCV vaccines: two months old
- PCV, Rotavirus, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Accellular Pertussis, HiB and Polio vaccines: four months old
- Polio and Penta (which includes Tetanus, Pertussis, Diptheria, Hepatitis B and HiB) vaccines: six months old
- MMR and Varicella vaccines: 12 months old
- MMR, Hib, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Accellular Pertussis and Polio vaccines: 18 months old
- Polio, Varicella, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Accellular Pertussis vaccines: four to six years old
- Tetanus, Diptheria and Accellular Pertussis vaccines: 13 to 18 years old.
Annual influenza vaccines are recommended for children older than six months during flu season.
Other vaccines may be necessary, depending on where you travel. Children and adolescents who frequently travel to high-risk countries may need two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine.
Additionally, children over the age of two should get meningococcal vaccines if they travel to endemic areas.
COVID-19 vaccination in Qatar
COVID-19 vaccinations are available throughout Qatar, and are free for residents and medically eligible people.
For general coronavirus health and information in Qatar, including vaccination schedules and locations, as well as the latest updates, visit Qatar’s COVID-19 online dashboard from the Ministry of Public Health.
Vaccinations for special groups in Qatar
It’s especially important for workers in certain professions to make sure they’re fully up-to-date with vaccinations, as it’s a requirement to obtain a medical certificate.
Food workers, health club workers, and those working in barbers and beauty centers can find out how to apply for a medical certificate on the Ministry of Public Health’s website.
To apply, you’ll need to fill out the application form, and include things like two recent photos, your residence permit, entry visa, and your vaccination card.
Those who are considered to be medically vulnerable are recommended to get the annual influenza vaccine during flu season.
Travel vaccinations in Qatar
You should make sure you’re up-to-date on all routine vaccines before you travel to Qatar. These include chickenpox, polio, and MMR.
Vaccination requirements before you enter the country will depend on where you’re traveling from. The Centers for Disease Control also provides vaccination advice.
Required vaccines include diphtheria and yellow fever vaccines for traveling to certain destinations. In addition, recommended vaccines for traveling include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
These vaccines aren’t offered as standard on Qatar’s public healthcare program but may be covered by private health insurance policies.