Stock child vaccination covid
The Pfizer vaccine has been available for children aged 12 years or more. But Sinopharm is the first, and so far the only, vaccine for children in the 3-11 years age group. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: On Monday, the UAE approved the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for children aged three to 17 years.

It is not the first COVID-19 vaccine available to UAE children: The Pfizer vaccine has been available for children aged 12 years or more. But the Sinopharm is the first, and so far only, vaccine for children in the 3-11 year age group.

Following the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) approval announcement, Abu Dhabi’s health sector regulator, the Department of Health (DoH) announced a series of locations where families can go to get COVID-19 vaccines for young children.

Here is all you need to know if you would like to vaccinate your child:

Is COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for children?

Like all other COVID-19 vaccines in the UAE, getting children inoculated is voluntary and free of charge. However, all children aged at least 16 years old will have to be fully vaccinated, i.e., they should have taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days before being allowed to enter school premises for in-class learning.

Is the Sinopharm vaccine safe for children?

The UAE’s approval of the vaccine follows a study of its efficacy and safety on 900 children in Abu Dhabi. It follows UAE efforts to tighten precautionary measures as COVID-19 variants spread across the world, with some of the new strains of the virus – like the delta variant that has also been detect in the UAE – reportedly infecting children more easily than previous strains.

The approval also comes ahead of children’s return to school after the summer break. Generally, respiratory viruses are known to spread quickly among school-going children, so the vaccine approval aims to provide an added layer of protection for children and staff return to school premises.

What do I have to do in order to get my child vaccinated?

-Ensure that you have the Alhosn app downloaded, and your child’s account registered with their Emirates ID.

-Approach a vaccination centre in Abu Dhabi, and be sure to take along your child’s Emirates ID.

Do I need to book an appointment to get the vaccine for my child?

At the majority of vaccination centres in Abu Dhabi, including at drive-through centres and private facilities, it is recommended to first book an appointment.

However, the DoH has released a number of vaccination centres in Abu Dhabi where residents can walk in without an appointment and get the shots for their children.

NAT-210120-COVID-VACCINE-ABU-DHABI-24
Approach a DoH-approved COVID-19 vaccination centre to apply for a vaccination exemption certificate. Once this is provided, and reflected on your child’s Alhosn app account, he or she will be allowed to attend school in person. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Should I be concerned about the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for my child?

The Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre has reassured that common side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines are “normal signs that your body is building protection”, and that these should go away within a day or two. These include:

-pain

-redness and swelling at the injection site

-tiredness

-headache

-muscle pains

-chills

-fever

-nausea

Some people also do not experience any side-effect.

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Here is a list of the centres that currently vaccinate children in Abu Dhabi without prior booking:

1. Sinopharm vaccine for children aged 3 years or more

Abu Dhabi city: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Seha Al Mushrif Children’s Speciality Centre, Al Mushrif Majlis, Al Bateen Majlis, Al Manhal Majlis

Al Ain: Al Kubaisi Hall at Al Ain Exhibition Centre, Seha Al Towayya Children’s Speciality Centre, Falaj Hazza Majlis

Al Dhafra: Ghayathi Hospital, Marfa Hospital, Delma Hospital, Liwa Hospital, Sila Hospital, Al Dhafra Family Medicine Centre, Al Dhafra Cooperative Society

2. Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 years or more

Pop-up vaccination facility at Yas Mall (between August 3-7 and August 24-28)

I want my child to return to school in person, but I am worried that he will not be able to tolerate the COVID-19 vaccine. What can I do?

Approach a DoH-approved COVID-19 vaccination centre to apply for a vaccination exemption certificate. Once this is provided, and reflected on your child’s Alhosn app account, he will be allowed to attend school in person.