20201224 dubai vacccine
File picture: COVID-19 vaccination programme in Dubai. Image Credit: @DXBMediaOffice

The UAE’s vaccination programme is on track, covering a significant size of the population at a rate of 47,000 vaccines per day, proportionately faster than many other countries where mass inoculation has begun. So far, 826,000 people or eight per cent of the UAE population has been vaccinated and many more are getting the shots against Coronavirus every day. The credit goes to the country’s health regulators who have prepared a solid plan to distribute and administer the vaccines all over the country.

The most important element is the ease of registration and receiving the vaccine for both citizens and residents. By roping in public health care network and private sector capacity, the entire process has been simplified for all sections of the society. The vaccine, free of cost for all, is being offered in two-shot dosage through government health centres and private hospitals in every emirate. The only exceptions are those below 18 years of age, people who are haemodynamically unstable with blood pressure and cardiac complications, pregnant women and those with a history of severe allergic reactions.

So far, those who have received vaccines in the UAE have not reported any side effects. Vaccine recipients interviewed by Gulf News said they have not experienced any moderate or severe reactions and praised the country’s health authorities for making vaccination process a simple exercise. Public trust in both the vaccine and the country’s health care apparatus are key to the success of any mass inoculation programme. The UAE has clearly scored on this front and the process is expected to gather pace in the coming weeks.

The UAE plans to inoculate 50 per cent of the population by end of this quarter, enough to achieve herd immunity and halt the disease. Abu Dhabi has announced incentives for the vaccine recipients by waving quarantine and travel restrictions. Once vaccinated, the recipients will have to undergo a monthly PCR test to continue to enjoy the incentives. However, health regulators have rightly warned that vaccines do not provide full immunity and people must continue to follow basic safety protocols of wearing masks and social distancing.

Second, more importantly, the recipients must understand that it takes 28 days after the second shot for the full effect of the vaccine. In other words, vaccination is not a licence for reckless behaviour and recipients must continue to act responsibly. After the successful roll-out, the health authorities must ensure that the vaccine is available to construction workers and service sector employees who live in staff accommodations. While a big section of the population is capable of accessing the vaccine at health centres, for many others vaccines will have to be provided at their places of work and residence.