More than 11,000 primary school pupils in Ajman have received their first dose of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine after it was approved for children between 3 and 17.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention cleared the vaccine for use on August 2 after a successful trial involving 900 children in Abu Dhabi.
A campaign to vaccinate young children was launched in Ajman on August 11 to ensure a safe return to schools. In the first nine days, 10,835 children were inoculated. Of these, 6,783 are residents in the emirate.
Children can receive the shots at Al Madeena, Mushairif, Al Manama and Muzairah centres in the emirate.
On Wednesday, dozens of parents accompanied their children while they waited their turn at the Madeena centre in Ajman’s Grand Mall on Sheikh Khalifa Street.
“We begin the process by registering the children in the system using their Emirates IDs,” said Dr Fatimah Al Marzouqi, the emirate's primary health care director.
The medics check the children's vital signs and then screen them to ensure they are fit to receive the vaccine.
The system is fully booked every day, the official said.
“I urge all parents to come forward and I assure them that no child has shown any side effects since the beginning of the campaign,” Dr Al Marzouqi said.
The children are given candies and small bottles of sanitisers after getting the shot.
“It's a friendly atmosphere here, there are balloons all over the place and nurses play with the children so they don't feel scared,” Dr Al Marzouqi said.
Karma Elsawir, 7, an Egyptian girl, was happy to get the first dose of the vaccine.
“I'm not scared. I just want to be able to go back to school and see my friends,” she said. “Online learning was boring.”
She said her brother, Badr, 11, told her about the vaccine and both asked their parents to take them to the vaccination centre.
“We just waited for the government to announce its approval of the vaccine in order to get the children vaccinated,” said Ahmad Kamel Elsawir, 44, their father.
“It's much safer for my children now.”
Sidrathul Munthaha, 9, from Bangladesh, comforted her younger brother who was not too happy after taking his first shot.
“I was a little scared but I know it's better for us and it was more of a tiny sting, that is what I told my brother,” she said.
But her brother complained about the pain.
Mushairif, Al Manama and Muzairah vaccination centres are open from Saturday to Thursday from 8am to 1pm and from 5pm to 10pm. Al Madeena centre is open from Sunday to Thursday and follows the same timings.