An Ajman vaccination centre reports a surge in Emiratis being immunised as the public answer a rallying cry from authorities to support the fight against the pandemic.
About 80 Emiratis receive their first or second doses of either the Sinopharm or Pfizer-BionTech jabs each day at the Ajman Society of Social and Cultural Development vaccination centre in the Musheiref area of the emirate.
This figure has risen significantly since April as awareness campaigns, coupled with relaxed travel rules for those who are fully vaccinated, reap rewards.
More than 81 per cent of the UAE public have now received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, helping to lead the way back to normality.
The UAE's daily infection rates have dropped as vaccination rates continue to rise, with 329 new cases reported on Thursday – just 10 per cent of the daily average in early February.
“The footfall was not strong when we first started last January with help from Ajman Medical District,” said Muna Saqr Al Matrooshi, general director of Ajman Society of Social and Cultural Development.
She said the centre would typically welcome three families, of about eight members each, to the centre on a daily basis to be vaccinated.
The society held campaigns and online lectures to educate the public about the importance of the vaccine to bolster inoculation rates.
These efforts helped to ease the concerns of those hesitant about getting vaccinated.
“Following this we saw a surge in numbers with nearly 10 or 11 families coming on a daily basis to get vaccinated,” Ms Al Matrooshi said.
“On some days the place would be fully packed with more than 1,000 people, to the extent that we had to close the main gate. ”
Three halls at the centre, which can accommodate more than 130 people at once, operate between 8am and 9pm Sunday through Thursday.
But the process is swift and efficient with more than 20 volunteers from the UAE Red Crescent Authority helping the medical staff deal with the flow of visitors.
“There are female and male volunteers who work on three shifts to help organise and expedite the process to make it more convenient for people,” Ms Al Matrooshi said.
UAE prioritises vaccination drive
Authorities have consistently highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated to help overcome the pandemic.
The introduction of booster shots has also been key.
Abu Dhabi requires people who received their second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine more than six months ago to take a booster shot to maintain green pass status, which is require to enter many public places.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the health sector, this week called for those eligible to receive a booster shot to help further drive down infection rates.
"These doses greatly enhanced immunity, thus reducing the number of cases we are witnessing at the present time," she said at a coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
"We recommend that individuals who are eligible for the booster dose be sure to take it on time."
'We feel more protected'
Armed forces retiree Rashid Al Shamsi, 52, who took both doses of Sinopharm, was back at the centre to take the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“I was hesitant about taking the Covid-19 vaccine at first, but my perception changed once the country announced its approval of them,” he said.
He came along with his wife and their two children on the first week of September when they all received their first dose of the vaccine.
“We all feel more protected now.”
Fatimah Nasser, an employee of Watani Al Emarat Foundation, and her entire family have been vaccinated.
“We all came here and took the shots,” she said.
Bushra Al Matrooshi, another Emirati waiting to take the vaccine, had initially decided to take the booster shot after receiving both Sinopharm jabs.
“But I decided to go for Pfizer-BioNTech in case I wanted to travel,” she said.
“My daughter, 13, was the first to get vaccinated, she wanted it because she had missed school, while my other daughter will be coming later today for her first shot.”