Coronavirus: parents flock to new Abu Dhabi drive-through vaccination centres

Health officials have introduced the scheme to ensure children do not miss out on necessary jabs during the coronavirus pandemic

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Scores of Abu Dhabi residents have taken their children to new drive-through vaccination centres rolled out this week.

The Ambulatory Healthcare Services launched the initiative to avoid parents having to take their children to hospitals for their jabs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The drive-through service is offered at 10 healthcare centres in the emirate.

Families are asked to call 80050 to book an appointment, with medical staff able to inoculate children in vehicles parked outside the designated health centres.

The National visited the Mushrif Children's Specialty Centre where dozens of children were vaccinated in cars in less than five minutes.

I feel safe doing the vaccination in the car rather than going into the clinic

An open small white tent was set up in front of the clinic for cars to drive through. Through the car window, parents and caregivers are asked for their child’s vaccination card and emirates ID for registration purposes.

A nurse then walks to the side of the car pushing a trolley containing the vaccines and explains which the child is to receive.

As the parent holds the child on their lap a 'Happy Birthday' song is played while the inoculation is carried out.

Amal Al Jaberi, clinic manager at the Mushrif centre, said the scheme was playing a vital part in ensuring children do not miss out on vaccinations.

“The drive through has received a positive response. Parents were really scared to come to the clinics to vaccinate their child and as you know vaccinations are one of the most important things to be done throughout a child’s childhood,” she said.

The centre has the capacity to serve more than a 100 cars per day and already they are receiving more than half that amount, she said.

Engineer Essam Jarous went to the Mushrif drive through to have his two-month-old son William vaccinated.

“I feel safe doing the vaccination in the car rather than going into the clinic. I don’t question the hygiene of the medical centre over here but it is the more probable place to find sick people,” he said.

All vaccinations up to eighteen months under the National Immunisation Programme can be completed at the drive-through centres, with the exception of the two-month vaccine which requires a physical examination.

The service is available at Al Bateen, Zafaranah Diagnostic and Screening Centre, Mushrif Children’s Specialty Centre in Abu Dhabi City, Mohamed bin Zayed City, Khalifa City, Baniyas, Al Bahia, Al Falah and Al Samha.

In Al Ain, the service is at Oud Al Touba Diagnostic & Screening Centre, Al Hili, Mezyad, Neima, Al Jahili, Al Yahar, Al Qo’a, Al Muwaiji, Al Towayya Children's Specialty Centre and Al Hayer.

“There is no doubt that some may feel anxious or reluctant to visit the healthcare centres,” said Dr Noura Al Ghaithi, the chief operations officer at Ambulatory Health Services.

“That is why we designed this service to provide child vaccinations without the need for the parents to leave their car.

“To reassure parents visiting to get the two-month vaccine, we have redesigned the patient flow so that the vaccination room is close to the entrance, therefore reducing the time the patient spends in the healthcare centre,” she said.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the UAE health sector, had issued an appeal to parents to ensure their children were up to date with their jabs earlier this week.

"The clear message to all mothers is they must make sure children are vaccinated, regardless of the situation," she said at a press briefing on Monday.

"There can be no delay. The UAE is keen to provide all required vaccinations to all sections of the community to protect against communicable diseases."