Monday, August 2, 2021

COVID-19: Here’s the full guide to Dubai’s vaccination campaign

iStock [For illustration]

Authorities in Dubai started offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in mid-December as part of the government’s free vaccination drive.

The vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect individuals from serious preventable diseases as it stimulates the body to build resistance to a particular infection and strengthens the immune system by training it to form antibodies.

Why should I take the vaccine?

It is currently the best, safest and most effective method to control the COVID-19 pandemic and stop it from spreading, to protect yourself and others.

Vaccine Safety and Efficacy:

All vaccines are subject to adequate testing and go through several stages (including clinical stages) before they are approved for use. The country has selected these vaccines on a scientific basis and has made sure to provide vaccines that meet all safety requirements.

Target group: 

It is preferable to give the vaccine to the largest percentage of society in order to achieve sufficient immunity required to prevent the spread of the virus. Priority is given to people who are most at risk of infection or people at risk of serious complications from infection and then to the remaining segments of society.

  • Senior citizens and residents over 60 years; people with chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, liver and kidney diseases, hypertension, obesity and people with a BMI of 35 or more); people of determination.
  • Individuals most likely to develop complications of the disease: Frontliners in the public and private sector; employees in sensitive and vital positions.
  • Community members over 18 years.

Vaccine excluded groups: Nursing mothers; pregnant women; children below 18 years; people with an immunodeficiency disease; those who are allergic to any vaccine, food, medicine or substance or those who carry a self-injectable adrenaline; women planning to get pregnant in the near future (3 months from the date of taking the vaccine).

What is the journey of receiving the vaccine?

Important information you should tell your doctor before taking the vaccine:

  • If you have any symptoms such as fever.
  • If you have a medical history such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
  • If you are allergic to any vaccine, food, medicine or substance or if you carry a self-injectable adrenaline.
  • If you are pregnant or you are planning to get pregnant within the next 3 months.
  • If you are breastfeeding.
  • If you suffer from an immunodeficiency disease or have a weak immunity.

The number of doses required:

  • Vaccination comprises of two doses, taken separately. The gap between the two doses is 21 days.
  • The vaccine is given in the muscle of the upper arm. For the vaccine to be effective, it is necessary to adhere to the appointment of the second dose as per the stipulated time.
  • It takes one week after the second dose of the vaccine to be effective and provide you with the necessary immunity.
  • Even after taking both the doses for the vaccine, it is important to continue to take all precautionary measures including wearing a facemask.

Do I need to take the COVID-19 vaccine only once in my lifetime?

It is too early to determine how long this vaccine will be effective for and the duration of its effectiveness. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will provide more information in this regard once it is available.

What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination?

It is normal to have minor side effects during the first week after receiving the vaccine and these symptoms are common when taking any type of vaccine.

What do I do if there are side effects?

  • Take a Paracetamol when you experience mild and moderate side effects.
  • Use a cold compress to relieve pain at the injection site.
  • If you have mild and moderate symptoms that persist for longer or severe symptoms, despite the use of Paracetamol, you should adhere to the following:
    • Book a telemedicine appointment with the ‘Doctor For Every Citizen initiative’. You can book this appointment through the DHA app or by contacting the DHA’s toll-free number 800 342 (Choose “COVID-19 Vaccine” from the main list and then click on number 3).
  • For emergencies, head to the nearest health centre or hospital.

 General tips after taking the vaccine:

  • Be aware of any side effects.
  • Comply with the instructions issued by your doctor.
  • Make sure you do not skip or delay your appointment for the second dose of the vaccination. This is important for the vaccine to be effective and to provide you with the necessary protection.

Precautionary measures:

  • The vaccine is one of the most effective ways to fight COVID-19 but it is not the only way.
  • Everyone should take precautionary measures to combat COVID-19 even after vaccination, such as physical distancing, keeping your hands clean and wearing a facemask.

Frequently-asked questions:

  • Can a person who was infected with COVID-19 take the vaccine? Yes, but the person needs to take the vaccination after three months from the date of infection of the virus. [The body develops antibodies after getting COVID-19; therefore, the chances for reinfection are very low.]
  • If someone has taken a vaccination other than the COVID-19 vaccine, is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine? Example: I took an influenza vaccine, is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine? Yes, but you need to wait for more than four weeks after the influenza vaccine to be able to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • I took a different COVID-19 vaccine recently, is it safe to take another COVID-19 vaccine? NO. It is NOT safe to take a different type of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • I might not be in Dubai to take my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Can I reschedule my vaccine for another day? It is strongly recommended to complete the vaccine course and abide by the scheduled time to ensure that you receive the maximum benefit of the vaccine.
  • Am I exempt from taking a PCR test for travel purposes or pre-surgical procedures in Dubai if I have taken the COVID-19 vaccine? No, you are not exempt. For the time being, everyone is required to follow policies and regulations that are related to COVID-19 testing and screening in Dubai.
  • Can I stop wearing a facemask after taking the COVID-19 vaccine? No, you still need to keep wearing the facemask and you must follow all precautionary measures unless there is another official instruction or announcement from the health authorities in this regard.
  • Do people need to keep following COVID-19 precautionary measures after completing the COVID-19 vaccination doses? Yes, all precautionary measures need to be followed even after taking the COVID-19 vaccine until you receive any instruction or announcement from the health authorities in this regard.
  • Is it safe for people with chronic diseases to take the vaccine? Yes, the vaccine is safe, effective and indicated for people with chronic diseases as they are at a higher risk of developing COVID-19 complications. Your family physician will inform you if you have any specific contraindication to take the vaccine.
  • I am on multiple medications, is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine? Your family physician will guide you on the safety of taking the vaccine. Provide your physician with your detailed medical history and list of medications. In addition, please make sure you inform your physician if you are allergic to any drugs or have any other allergies.
  • What is the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine? It is free-of-cost.
  • Is vaccination voluntary or compulsory in Dubai? It is voluntarily, however, there must be no contraindications, in order to be vaccinated. Your family physician will inform you if you are eligible for the vaccine. You must provide your medical history, list of medications and details of allergies to drugs or any other allergies.

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