Dubai: If you are excited with the announcement of the COVID-19 vaccine available in the UAE, but have unanswered questions, like whether someone can take the vaccine even after being infected by COVID-19, there is good news.
In an exhaustive ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Awareness Guide’ the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) provided insights into the importance of getting vaccinated, who is eligible and what are some of the precautions and side-effects that people need to be aware of. Here is all you need to know.
How do vaccines work?
In its guide, DHA stated that the vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect individuals from serious preventable diseases as it stimulates the body to build resistance to a particular infection and strengthens the immune system by training it to form antibodies.
Vaccines stimulate the immune system without making the person ill. They work in different ways but they all provide protection against the disease.
For example, when injecting the vaccine (which contains protein from the virus) the immune system recognises it as a foreign body and it starts producing antibodies. A person's immune system forms a memory against these foreign bodies. The immune system starts fighting the virus when it enters the body again.
Why should I take the vaccine?
The vaccine is currently the best, safest and most effective method to control the COVID-19 pandemic and stop it from spreading, to protect yourself and others.
It is preferable to give the vaccine to the largest percentage of society in order to achieve sufficient immunity required to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, priority is given to people who are most at risk of infection or people at risk of serious complications from infection and then to the remaining segments of society.
Individuals most likely to develop complications of the disease:
• Senior citizens and residents over 60 years
• People with chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, liver and kidney diseases, hypertension, obesity and people with a BMI of 35 or more.)
• People of determination
People in occupations with the highest COVID-19 risk
• Frontliners in the public and private sector
• Employees in sensitive and vital positions
• Community members over 18 years
Vaccine excluded groups
• Nursing mothers
• Pregnant women
• Children below 18 years
• People with an immunodeficiency disease
• Those who are allergic to any vaccine, food, medicine or substance OR those who carry a self-injectable adrenaline
• Women planning to get pregnant in the near future (three months from the date of taking the vaccine)
You must inform your doctor of all the medications you are taking and those you are allergic to.
Vaccine Safety and Efficacy
All vaccines are subject to adequate testing and go through several stages (including clinical stages) before they are approved for use.
The country has selected these vaccines on a scientific basis and has made sure to provide vaccines that meet all safety requirements.
Is COVID-19 vaccination optional or compulsory?
COVID-19 vaccination is optional.
What is the journey of receiving the vaccine?
1. Register via the DHA app or call 800 342
(If you do not have health card number to register via the app, DHA advises Dubai residents to open a file for COVID-19 vaccine by sending an email firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. You will receive a text message with instructions and tips (if you meet the criteria).
3. Make sure you read the consent form.
4. The centre will check your vital signs when you arrive.
5. You will receive the first dose of the vaccine.
6. You need to wait at the clinic for 20 minutes after receiving the vaccine
7. You will receive an SMS 15 minutes after you have finished your vaccination.
The SMS will provide details of your vaccination certificate and the appointment date and time for the second dose of the vaccination. (Second dose is after 21 days)
Pre-vaccination checklist for COVID-19 vaccines
This is the important information you should tell your doctor before taking the vaccine:
• If you have any symptoms such as fever
• If you have a medical history such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
• If you are allergic to any vaccine, food, medicine or substance OR if you carry a self-injectable adrenaline.
• If you are pregnant or you are planning to get pregnant within the next three months.
• If you are breastfeeding.
• If you suffer from an immunodeficiency disease or have a weak immunity.
Taking the vaccine and the number of doses required
• Vaccination comprises of two doses, taken separately. The gap between the two doses is 21 days.
• The vaccine is given in the muscle of the upper arm.
• For the vaccine to be effective, it is necessary to adhere to the appointment of the second dose as per the stipulated time.
• It takes one week after the second dose of the vaccine to be effective and provide you with the necessary immunity.
Note: Even after taking both the doses for the vaccine, it is important to continue to take all precautionary measures including wearing a face mask.
Do I need to take the COVID-19 vaccine only once in my lifetime?
“It is too early to determine how long this vaccine will be effective for and the duration of its effectiveness. We will provide more information in this regard once it is available,” posted DHA.
What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination?
It is normal to have minor side effects during the first week after receiving the vaccine and these symptoms are common when taking any type of vaccine.
These are some of the side effects DHA educates people on in its COVID-19 vaccine guide:
• Fatigue and headaches
• Pain, swelling or redness at the site of the injection
• Joint pain
• Vomiting and diarrhoea
• Muscle pain
What do I do if there are side effects?
• Take a paracetamol when you experience mild and moderate side effects.
• Use a cold compress to relieve pain at the injection site.
• If you have mild and moderate symptoms that persist for longer or severe symptoms, despite the use of paracetamol, you should adhere to the following:
1. Book a telemedicine appointment with the Doctor For Every Citizen initiative.
You can book this appointment by using the DHA app or by contacting the DHA’s toll-free number 800 342 (Choose “COVID-19 Vaccine” from the main list and then click on number 3).
2. For emergencies, head to the nearest health centre or hospital.
General tips after taking the vaccine
• Be aware of any side effects.
• Comply with the instructions issued by your doctor.
• Make sure you do not skip or delay your appointment for the second dose of the vaccination. This is important for the vaccine to be effective and to provide you with the necessary protection.
• The vaccine is one of the most effective ways to fight COVID-19 but it is not the only way.
• Everyone should take precautionary measures to combat COVID-19 even after vaccination, such as physical distancing, keeping your hands clean and wearing a face mask.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
The guide also answers some frequently asked questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Can a person who was infected with COVID-19 take the vaccine?
Yes, but he/she will need to take the vaccination after three months from the date of infection.
Note: The body develops antibodies after getting COVID-19; therefore, the chances for re-infection are very low.
If someone has taken any other vaccine other than the COVID-19 vaccine (for example, the influenza vaccine), is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, but you need to wait for more than four weeks after the influenza vaccine to be able to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
I took a different COVID-19 vaccine recently, is it safe to take another COVID-19 vaccine?
NO. It is NOT safe to take a different type of COVID-19 vaccination.
I might not be in Dubai to take my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Can I reschedule my vaccine for another day?
It is strongly recommended to complete the vaccine course and abide by the scheduled time to ensure that you receive the maximum benefit of the vaccine.
Am I exempt from taking a PCR test for travel purposes or for pre-surgical procedures in Dubai if I have taken the COVID-19 vaccine?
No, you are not exempt. For the time being, everyone is required to follow policies and regulations that are related to COVID-19 testing and screening in Dubai.
Can I stop wearing a face mask after taking the COVID-19 vaccine?
Everyone is required to follow all the precautionary measures set, including wearing a face mask after taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Do people need to keep following COVID-19 precautionary measures after completing the COVID-19 vaccination doses?
Yes, all precautionary measures need to be followed even after taking the COVID-19 vaccine until you receive any instruction or announcement from the health authorities in this regard.
Is it safe for people with chronic diseases to take the vaccine?
Yes, the vaccine is safe, effective and indicated for people with chronic diseases as they are at a higher risk of developing COVID-19 complications. Your family physician will inform you if you have any specific contraindication to take the vaccine.
I am on multiple medications, is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
Your family physician will guide you on the safety of taking the vaccine. Provide your physician with your detailed medical history and list of medications. In addition, please make sure you inform your physician if you are allergic to any drugs or have any other allergies.
What is the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine?
It is free.
Is the vaccine voluntary or compulsory in Dubai?
The vaccination is voluntary for all residents and citizens.
However, there must be NO contraindications, in order to be vaccinated.
Your family physician will inform you if you are eligible for the vaccine.
You must provide your medical history, list of medications and details of allergies to drugs or any other allergies.