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A vaccination centre at Mina Rashed in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Never has the significance of vaccination been in such sharp focus as now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping this in mind, the UAE Ministry of Health observed World Immunisation Week 2021, that falls in the last week of April this year, under the theme ‘Vaccines bring us closer’ and vetted by the World Health Organisation (WHO)

World Immunisation Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases, increase vaccination rates, and spread awareness on the importance of vaccinations and their influential role in eliminating communicable diseases.

Immunisation a national priority

The activities of World Immunisation Week seek to enhance the commitment of community members to vaccination schedules according to the National Vaccination Programme, disseminate scientific facts about the importance of vaccines for all community members to protect them from diseases and emphasise the safety of vaccines according to international best practices.

The UAE Ministry of Health has harnessed all communication channels with the individuals to spread awareness-raising messages about vaccines, highlight vaccination services provided by health centres and publish vaccine-related scientific facts. This year’s campaign also includes a webinar on April 29, for medical cadres on the latest information and global practices related to vaccines.

National index of vaccination

Speaking about the importance of immunisation, Dr Husseub Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Underscretary of health, said: “Keeping people healthy and safe from contagious diseases is a national priority. Therefore, we’ve launched this outreach campaign to encourage people to visit primary health-care centres and clinics to take the vaccines to maintain their health. This will help improve the results of the national index of vaccination rates of all community members to surpass 99 per cent, so that we can have a healthy society free from vaccination-preventable diseases.”

Production of Hayat vaccine

Regarding the UAE’s achievements in administering COVID-19 vaccines, Al Rand underlined that these successes clearly reflect the commitment of the country’s wise leadership to the health and wellbeing of people through the provision of the best health-care practices, including free vaccinations for all target groups. He said this was becoming increasingly more important with the UAE’s production of the ‘Hayat-Vax’ vaccine — the first of its kind in the region — that confirms that the UAE is moving steadily towards entering the recovery phase.

Importance of vaccination programme

Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of Preventive Medicine Department, said that immunisation is one of the greatest success stories in global health, pointing out that the implementation of the immunisation programmes-related global goals and strategies, adopted by the WHO for disease control and prevention, has resulted in saving millions of lives every year from vaccine-preventable diseases, such as hepatitis, measles, rubella, parotitis, polio and chickenpox. “Vaccines also help reduce the use of antibiotics to treat the disease and its complications, which contributes to lowering the percentage of bacterial patterns that are resistant to antibiotics,” she added.

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Al Marzouqi urged all community members to adhere to vaccination schedules of the National Vaccination Programme, school health vaccination programme, vaccinations for adults, travellers and seasonal flu vaccination programmes.

She pointed out that vaccines are being administered at all the ministry’s preventive medicine centres in accordance with the highest levels of safety and precautionary measures to prevent infection, calling on individuals to adhere to the necessary vaccination protocol to protect them from diseases.