Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention on Thursday announced that it is now offering the herpes zoster vaccine, the certified vaccine for the prevention of shingles, a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash.
This vaccine is now accessible to individuals aged 50 and above at health facilities across the UAE. Administered in two doses, six months apart, the vaccine supports disease prevention in line with best practices to eliminate or reduce the risk of shingles infection among adults while diminishing complications for those infected.
The ministry made this announcement at its headquarters in Dubai during a scientific session attended by Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, the managers of several ministry administrations and departments, and representatives of local health authorities.
The session highlighted the need to raise awareness about the importance of preventive vaccination for targeted groups, with a focus on vaccinating against shingles and enhancing the capacities of health workers by boosting their awareness of the latest global recommendations regarding shingles.
These efforts will contribute to diminishing the health burden from diseases that could be prevented by raising the national vaccine coverage rate, the ministry pointed out.
Developing vaccination programme
Al Rand stressed the need to integrate the recognised herpes zoster vaccine into the vaccines recommended in the national adult vaccination programme with the aim of preventing infectious diseases and increasing the vaccine coverage rate.
This involves creating a vaccination policy to maintain high vaccine coverage, stay updated with global progress, and establish a robust immunisation system that promotes public health and the quality of life of the UAE residents.
Al Rand noted that the UAE is considered a global leader in the field of vaccination, thanks to its visionary leadership and through its provision of all relevant cadres and capacities to advance the development of the national vaccination ecosystem by enhancing its sustainability and pre-emptive edge.
“These actions preserve the health and well-being of the Emirati society while meeting public health targets, in line with the Ministry’s strategic priorities to develop the national health system and shield the public from communicable diseases via proactive measures that follow international best practices,” he added.
A person develops shingles when the same virus that causes chickenpox reactivates in his or her system. Usually, a shingles infection results in a rash and painful blisters that commonly emerge on one side of the body. The herpes zoster vaccine can protect against both the disease and associated complications, the ministry pointed out.
US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine to prevent shingles and complications from the disease. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses, according to the CDC.