DUBAI: The UAE is now second in the world only to Israel in coronavirus vaccine administration rates, with the country inoculating over 180,000 people per day as it tries to get to grips with a surge in infection levels.
On Thursday, the UAE reported a record 3,407 new coronavirus cases, with seven further deaths raising the overall toll to 733.
At the same time the country has launched a COVID-19 vaccine campaign in an attempt to vaccinate over 50 percent of the population.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention said this week that 1,167,251 people have received the jab, with 11.8 doses administered per 100 people.
As part of the vaccination program, health authorities are encouraging citizens and residents to “choose to vaccinate” in order to beat the deadly pandemic.
The Chinese Sinopharm and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations are both available in the UAE, while the Russian Sputnik vaccine is undergoing phase III trials in Abu Dhabi. The UAE government is providing free doses of Sinopharm, which is 86 percent effective. The vaccine was also trialed over the summer when 31,000 residents signed up.
In Dubai, six facilities set up by the local heath authority are offering free Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination, which is 95 percent effective but needs to be stored at extremely low temperatures. Over the coming months much of the population is expected to take the vaccine, which is issued in two doses at 21 days apart.
Dr. Khawla Al-Hajjaj, from Zabeel Primary Health Care in Dubai, said: “We began with UAE nationals and expatriates who have residency visas in Dubai, who are above the age of 60, or those who have chronic diseases or are front-line workers.”
Bookings for vaccination can be made through the DHA application service or via the call center at 800 342.
Al-Hajjaj said that no side-effects have been reported, apart from mild symptoms such as headache, swelling at the site of the injection and fever — a normal response to any vaccine.
All Dubai residents are eligible to take the vaccine, with Emiratis and those over 60, people with chronic diseases, and front-line and vital sector workers at the head of the queue. Exceptions include those with underlying health conditions who have been asked to delay getting the jab.