Dubai: With the launch of the Ministry of Health and Prevention ( MoHaP) campaign to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to all children above the age of 12 years, schools are rushing to get their students covered.
With over 2,300 DPS Dubai students set to complete the first dose of vaccination by May-end, it is one of the first schools to get proactive in getting its students in the age group of 12-16 vaccinated. The school has alredy got about 600 students the first dose of the Pfizer Biontech vaccine as part of a campaign being held between May 21-27. It aims to complete the first dose for all students by May end. It also aims to complete administering the second dose as per schedule by the second or third week of June 2020.
Commenting on the proactiveness of the student community in getting vaccinated, Rashmi Nandkoleyar, Principal of DPS Dubai, said: “I would like to express my gratitude towards the visionary UAE government which has initiated this campaign to get students vaccinated. All our staff in the school have already been vaccianted and the completion of this campaign will enable society to return to normalcy and safety in the shortest time as possible.”
8,000 students at GEMS
Another education group - GEMS Education - said it aims to get about 8,000 eligible students in the age of 12-16 years vaccinated. Over 1,800 students from GEMS schools have already received the first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
Elmarie Venter, Chief Operations Officer at GEMS Education, said: “More than 42,000 GEMS students are eligible to be vaccinated and 8,000 will be having this done this week - 1,800 have already received the vaccine. Gems will continue its work throughout the summer to ensure all our schools remain as safe as possible for our communities and we are delighted to welcome 1,600 new teachers in August. These new teachers will also be vaccinated to join 14,700 GEMS teachers and school support staff who have already received a vaccine.”
She continued, “Our number one priority will always be the health and safety of our school communities, and we firmly believe that with this campaign of vaccinations for all students aged 12 and over, we can take a big step towards all our pupils safely returning to the classroom. Our parents have been extremely supportive throughout, and have welcomed all the health and safety measures that we have taken to ensure this.”
GEMS Education is also working with the authorities in Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah to introduce a similar campaign for students there in due course.
Maryssa O’Connor, Principal/CEO at GEMS Wellington International School, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic the support of our whole school community has enabled our students to continue their outstanding educational experience at our schools. I would like to particularly thank our parents for their additional support with the current GEMS vaccination programme, which has been implemented by the authorities. This strategy will ensure that our students and school community stay as safe as possible.”
Parents, students delighted
Michael Pantoja, parent at GEMS Winchester School, Dubai, said: “The vaccine drive has been very convenient for us as a family. We had been looking around to get our kids vaccinated, so this is really good. My sons have been learning online 100 per cent this year, but we were looking to send them back to school, provided that they have the vaccine.”
Students also felt an increased sense of security and optimism.
Saira Sambhar, Year 9 student at GEMS Wellington International School, said: “I feel really lucky to be able to get the vaccine through school. In some countries even the adults don’t have the vaccine yet, and we do. I’m looking forward to the next academic year and not feeling anxious or worrying that people might be sick.”
Akhilla Kannan, a Grade 8 student at DPS Dubai, said she had butterflies in her stomach when she reached the venue.
“My BP was checked and the nurse said it was normal, but I still wondered how could it be normal. After I was administered the vaccine, I felt delighted and safe.”
Vacha Kachhela, a Class 9 student at DPS DUbai said, “Though I was nervous initially based on mixed experiences shared by my family and friends, I was very much determined to protect myself, and in turn my community, from the virus.
"The entire process went very smooth due to the reserved time slots, specially for DPS Dubai students.”