COVID-19 vaccine Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The ‘Choose to Vaccinate’ campaign, launched by the Abu Dhabi Department of Health and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, has clarified several questions that the public has when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines over the last few days.

The clarifications have been provided by Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE government health authorities and manager of communicable diseases at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre.

Below is a compilation of some of the most common questions that have been addressed:

Is it possible to still become infected with the virus after taking the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines do not completely eliminate the risk of infection. But they greatly reduce the risk of infection and transmission. They also reduce severe complications resulting from the virus. Therefore, a small percentage of people may still get infected without experiencing any symptoms or with the presence of mild symptoms. So, we must adhere to the precautionary measures, such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing even after taking the vaccine.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The potential side effects of the vaccine are like those of any other vaccine. Some common side effects include pain at the injection site, redness or swelling at the injection site. Fever is also expected in some cases, as well as joint and muscle pain. These are all minor side effects and usually subside within a few days.

Who should take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are available in the UAE for free for citizens and residents aged 16 and above. There is a specific group we are currently focussing on and we consider a priority, which is the elderly and those with chronic conditions. They are the most vulnerable to complications from the virus. Therefore, by taking the vaccine, they will be better protected from the risks posed by the virus.

Who is currently eligibile to get the vaccine?

For six weeks from February 7 onwards, the UAE has been offering COVID-19 vaccines to senior residents, People of Determination, people with chronic diseases, and those scheduled for their second vaccine doses. This drive to vaccinate the most vulnerable members of society is set to continue until late March.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe given they were developed in a short period of time?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and have undergone rigorous testing to ensure their safety and effectiveness. For example, the Sinopharm vaccine has been tested in several countries, including the UAE. In the clinical trials that were conducted in the UAE, more than 31,000 people from 125 different nationalities participated.