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Dubai: My parents and I decided to get vaccinated just ahead of the weekend on Thursday January 21. We wanted to be among the first batch of people to get protected from the spread of COVID-19. And since the UAE is encouraging members of the public to get vaccinated, we followed suit.

Booking the appointment

On a Tuesday evening, we decided as a family that we would be taking the Sinopharm vaccine. So we launched the SEHA app on our phones in order to book the appointment.

After a few minutes to decide our centre location, we picked the SEHA Dubai Parks and Resorts Vaccination Centre. We thought it would be far away enough for wait times to be shorter. We booked the appointment on Thursday from 3pm to 4pm. On the app, you can select a time slot of an hour ranging from 9am onwards.

Getting there

Arriving at the entrance of the vaccination centre, right outside you will reach your first checkpoint. Two signs with arrows pointing in opposite directions. “Left” for the first dose of the vaccination and right for the second dose of the vaccination. We stayed in the left lane.

Then we arrived at a second checkpoint. One for appointments and one for Walk-Ins. Since we took an appointment, we lined up accordingly in our car. Until this point, everything is done from inside of the car.

Then we were allowed to enter the parking lot. Where we had to wait in our cars for the previous batch of people that arrived before us to be finished. This was the third checkpoint. The reason you have to wait in your car if for your safety and to prevent overcrowding inside of the centre. Then security guards asked us to move our vehicles closer to the centre.

Any cars trying to cut in line ahead of others were asked to move to the back, so it was very organised.

Inside the centre

We exited our cars and lined up briefly outside of the centre. Once inside, you show another security guard your appointment code as well as your Emirates ID. You then receive a ticket with a number on it and you are asked to sit in socially distanced chairs across the entire centre.

When my number was called I sat across from a government worker who gave me a sticker for my file. It had my name, date of birth, sex and a unique barcode on it.

The vaccination process

Inside the nurse explained that I would be taking the jab in my non-dominant arm, which to me is my left arm, just in case there is a little bit of pain in the area of the jab.

But first… She checked my height, weight and marital status. This is important as women who were married had to take a quick pregnancy test, as it is not advisable for pregnant women to take the vaccine.

Then she checked my blood pressure and temperature.

When it was time for the jab, she explained that only one in 100 experienced any side effects and that they were slight nausea, slight fever and a throat ache. And that the area of injection could feel a bit sensitive.

The jab itself did not hurt. I felt a slight tinge as the cold liquid entered my bloodstream but all in all, it was an easy experience.

I was then given a file with details about my second dose, which was scheduled automatically 21 days from the first dose. I was sent an SMS by SEHA almost immediately.

Lastly, I exited the centre and went home. The whole experience took a little over an hour.

Side effects?

I personally didn’t have any severe side effects. My left shoulder hurt slightly for a day and I felt slightly sleepier than usually… But that also could have been due to my busy week.

The experience was swift, easy and I am grateful to have received the vaccine for free here in the UAE.

Get your vaccine

The UAE is offering all residents and citizens free of charge a vaccine manufactured by Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, while people living in Dubai have the choice of either the Sinopharm or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

SEHA, which is the providor of Sinopharm has plenty of vaccination centers accross the country including at:

Drive-Through Centre:

• Screening Centre - Al Wathba (Abu Dhabi)

• Screening Centre- Al Bahia (Abu Dhabi)

• Screening Centre-Al Shamkha (Abu Dhabi)

• Screening Centre- Zayed Sport City (Abu Dhabi)

• Screening Centre-Corniche (Abu Dhabi)

• Screening Centre - Al Jerf 2 (Ajman)

• Screening Centre-Asharij (Al Ain)

• Screening Centre- Al Hili (Al Ain)

• Screening Centre- Madinat Zayed (Al Dhafra)

• Screening Centre -Ghayathi (Al Dhafra)

• Screening Centre-Al Mifra (Al Dhafra)

• Screening Centre - Mina Rashid (Dubai)

• Screening Centre- Al Khawaneej (Dubai)

• Screening Centre -City Walk (Dubai)

• Screening Centre- Fujairah (Fujairah)

• Screening Centre -Dafan Al Khor (Ras Al Khaimah)

• Screening Centre-Al Bait Metwahhed (Sharjah)

• Screening Centre-Defence Camp (Umm Al Quwain)

Vaccination Centres

• SEHA COVID-19 Vaccination Centre- Abu Dhabi (Zayed Port)

• SEHA COVID-19 Vaccination Centre- Al Ain (Al Ain Convention Centre)

• SEHA COVID-19 Vaccination Centre-Madinat Zayed- Al Dhafra (Abu Dhabi)

• Dubai Parks Vaccine Centre (Dubai)

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) centres offering PfizerBioNTech

• Al Safa Primary Healthcare Centre

• Zabeel Primary Health Care Centre

• Al Mizhar Primary Health Care Centre

• Nad Al Hamr Primary Health Care Centre

• Al Barsha Primary Health Care Centre

• Uptown Miriff Medical Fitness Centre And

• Hatta Hospital