Hundreds of pupils aged 16 and up receive Covid-19 vaccine

Teachers hope inoculating pupils and staff will bring a sense of normality back

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Some UAE private schools have started vaccination drives to ensure pupils aged 16 and above receive the Covid-19 shot.

Education leaders believe immunising eligible pupils is the key to helping them and their classmates feel secure as they prepare for university.

UAE authorities have urged those aged 16 and above to take the Covid-19 vaccine to help break the chain of infection.

And principals believe the move will return a sense of normalcy and more social interaction on campus.

The vaccine goes a long way in protecting them. There is a resurgence of hope and optimism which encourages us

Pali Nahal​, acting vice principal at Uptown International School, said about 100 pupils there had received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under the initiative.

The school is part of education provider Taaleem, which booked shots for pupils at Dubai Health Authority clinics. Teachers accompanied them to the appointments.

About 250 pupils at Taaleem schools have been immunised against Covid-19.

“Getting the vaccine will give pupils reassurance and security, especially at the end of the year,” Ms Nahal said.

She said vaccination was a priority for the school, not least so social integration could resume.

Gems Education carried out two inoculation drives in March and in April.

Teresa Varman, principal at Gems Millennium School Sharjah, said its pupils had the first dose of the vaccine as part of a group-wide initiative at its sister school in Dubai, Gems New Millennium School Al Khail, in early April.

The school sought parents’ permission and once the consent forms were signed, arranged for their children to have the vaccine.

“I think pupils being vaccinated takes us all one step closer to normalcy,” said Ms Varman.

“The vaccine goes a long way in protecting them. There is a resurgence of hope and optimism, which encourages us.”

Ms Varman said about 90 children, close to 60 per cent of those eligible, received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine and will soon have their second ones.

“We held a graduation for them because most of them had taken the vaccine,” said Ms Varman.

Final-year pupils attended the on-campus graduation ceremony, which included farewell speeches.

Pupils who had not had the vaccine were required to undergo a Covid-19 test to attend the event.

Most of the 235 teaching and administrative staff at the school have had the shot.

Santosh Hadinaru, health, safety and environment Manager at Gems Education, said it had encouraged parents of pupils aged 16 or older to have them immunised.

“Having more of our eligible pupils vaccinated reduces the risk and prevents the spread of infection within the school community,” said Mr Hadinaru.

“This ultimately gives peace of mind to parents who know that their children are protected now.”

Gems helped pupils, their parents and family members be vaccinated through school initiatives.

Mr Hadinaru said the group was planning more vaccination drives.

Meanwhile, more than eight in 10 private school teachers in Dubai have received their first dose.

In January, 60 per cent of staff at private schools – 15,000 people – in Abu Dhabi received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine.

They were administered during a two-week drive organised by Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, which regulates such schools in the emirate.