Live updates: follow the latest news on Covid-19 variant Omicron
Dubai has started offering the Covid-19 vaccine to children aged 5 and above.
Parents can book appointments on the Dubai Health Authority app from Tuesday, February 1.
The emirate has provided the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to the public since December 2020. It was made available to children aged 12 to 15 across the UAE in May last year.
"The current Covid-19 vaccination is available for citizens and Dubai residents who have a valid Dubai residence visa and are 5 years and above," read a message on the booking section on the DHA app.
Private healthcare centres were issued a briefing on January 25 to prepare for the expansion of the vaccination programme to younger children.
While most adults had at least some kind of protection from either vaccination or prior infection, the virus has spread more widely in children.
The risk of severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 is lower among children aged 5 to 11, compared to adults, but numbers of new cases and admissions to hospital continue to rise within this age group.
The DHA said admissions to hospital in children were increasing because of the Omicron variant.
Hospitals around the world have reported more children requiring hospital care as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 circulated rapidly.
Data from the US found a third of children admitted with Covid-19t required intensive care.
Of the children who developed severe illness, most had underlying medical conditions.
Current evidence suggests children with underlying genetic, neurologic and metabolic conditions or congenital heart disease are at increased risk of severe illness.
Youngsters are at risk of developing multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which is a serious though uncommon condition associated with recent Sars-CoV-2 infection.
The condition is estimated to affect between 0.5 per cent and 3.1 per cent of all children who have Sars-CoV-2 diagnosed, and between 0.9 per cent and 7.6 per cent of Covid-19 paediatric patients admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile, in Canada, 272 cases of MIS-C in children under 19 had been reported as of October 16, 2021.
Their average age was 6, with 40 per cent of cases occurring in those aged 5 to 11.
On October 29, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorisation to allow the use of the Pfizer vaccine, for immunisation to prevent the virus in children aged five and over.
Data from independent advisory committee experts found the vaccine to be 90.7 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 in children.
In the UAE, Sinopharm has been available for children as young as 3, but the Pfizer vaccine was unavailable for children aged 5-11 until now, despite its approval for emergency use by regulators in November.
At the start of the year, about 30 Dubai schools returned to distance learning owing to concerns about rising cases of Covid-19 in younger children.
Many were unprotected against the virus unless they had been previously infected and had natural immunity provided by antibodies.