The rate at which the UAE has vaccinated citizens and residents is remarkable and among the best in the world. As of Wednesday, the country had administered 13.5 million vaccine doses at a distribution rate of 136.58 per 100 people. Latest statistics provided by the Ministry of Health and Prevention show that almost 85 per cent of all eligible people over the age of 16 and over 95 per cent of the 60-plus population have received both the doses. This is no small achievement.
There is a lot that happens before recipients get the jab. Vaccines have to be procured from credible sources, supply lines have to be established, cold chains have to be put in place and huge manpower has to be deployed to inoculate the population on a daily basis. Also, the integrity of the entire process — from sourcing to administration — has to be maintained. Tens of thousands of doses are administered every day; on Wednesday alone, 96,659 people received the vaccine all over the country.
The credit for the successful roll-out of the national vaccination programme must go to the UAE leadership for securing the shots from global manufacturers. Even before the commencement of the vaccination drive as early as December last year, the UAE had approved the clinical trial of Sinopharm and was closely involved in its various stages, a process that eventually led to inoculation of the wider population. Second, credit also goes to the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai Health Authority and other health agencies, which executed the vaccination drive with precision and without any glitches.
At a time when countries, including some in the region, are struggling to source the shots and vaccinate their populations, the UAE’s track record is impressive. The challenge is to expand this drive and cover sections of the society that may be eligible, but have remained unvaccinated. For example, expats who are living and working illegally in the country have not received the vaccine because they don’t have a valid Emirates ID.
Health regulators must find a way to encourage these workers to come forward and get vaccinated. These expats work and live among us and their inoculation is necessary in order to effectively contain the pandemic. Another big step would be a smooth launch of booster shots for inoculated people who suffer from chronic health problems.