BACKGROUND: Among the challenges to public health systems imposed by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been vaccine scarcity and the prioritization of high-risk groups. Countries have been prompted to accelerate the pace of immunization campaigns against COVID-19 to deploy the immunization umbrella to the largest possible number of target groups. In this paper, we share the perspective of Oman regarding the impact of accelerating the administration of the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in one border governorate (Musandam) by comparison to another border governorate (Al-Buraimi) where this approach was not applied.
METHODS: Daily admissions data (April 10, 2020 to June 24, 2021) and vaccination data (January 1 to June 24, 2021) were collected systematically. For each governorate, the cumulative doses (first and second doses) and vaccination coverage were calculated daily.
RESULTS: Within 1 month, first dose vaccination coverage increased from 20% to 58% in Musandam, reducing the incidence of hospital admission by 75%. In comparison, vaccination coverage plateaued at 20% in Al-Buraimi, and the incidence of hospital admission increased by 500%.
CONCLUSIONS: Given the peculiarity of the geographical location and being the first line of access for imported cases, border regions should be a priority for vaccine deployment as a preventive measure. The two different approaches reported here, implemented in broadly similar cross-border governorates, provide evidence of the significant effect of accelerating the first dose of vaccine in reducing hospitalizations.