Authorities urge Dubai's unvaccinated 17 per cent to sign up for Covid-19 shots

Vaccine hesitancy among some raises risks for wider community protection, experts say

A minority of Dubai residents are yet to take the coronavirus vaccine, with doctors blaming the unfounded fear of side-effects and misplaced concerns about reinfection among the reasons.

A study by Dubai Health Authority released last weekend found 83 per cent of the eligible population received a first vaccine dose and 64 per cent obtained a second shot.

The 17 per cent of people who have taken no vaccine at all are most susceptible to the virus, the authority said.

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It is only people who are not vaccinated who are getting severe pneumonia symptoms

Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, chairwoman of testing and vaccination at the Covid-19 Command and Control Centre, said those in such groups would be vaccinated shortly.

“Community members must understand that in order to build immunity, both doses are necessary,” Dr Al Suwaidi said.

“If a vaccinated person gets Covid-19, the likelihood of getting seriously ill is much lower compared to a person who has not taken the vaccine.

“Of the 20 per cent of the target group yet to be vaccinated, there are community members who are in the process of getting the vaccine."

Some people in this group understood the importance of vaccines but had not yet booked appointments, Dr Al Suwaidi said.

“Then there are those who have health issues and are consulting with their physicians, and a very small percentage who are hesitant to take the vaccine,” she said.

So far, 2.3 million people have received a vaccine shot since Dubai expanded its inoculation programme at the start of the year.

Health authorities encouraged residents not to delay taking a second dose, to bolster community immunity.

Dubai is aiming to vaccinate all groups by the end of the year.

Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, a specialist in internal medicine at NMC Speciality Hospital in Al Nahda, Dubai, said some people in vulnerable groups were still reluctant to be inoculated.

“Some people still have a fear of [purported] vaccine-related side-effects like inducing Covid infection, which is a myth as these vaccines never cause an active infection,” Dr Polumuru said.

“As these Covid vaccines are not time-tested, some people say they are less effective against the virus.

“But the fact is, all vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe infection by 95 per cent and mild infection by 93 per cent."

Only unvaccinated people were showing severe pneumonia symptoms, Dr Polumuru said.

Some elderly people with several chronic health problems believe vaccines do not add extra protection against active infection.

“This is not true at all. They are a vulnerable group and need to be vaccinated,” Dr Polumuru said.

Some people with allergies were also afraid of the vaccine, he said.

Others with expired visas and some who lost jobs or were living alone were still not vaccinated, he said.

“Big companies should actively participate in getting them vaccinated, irrespective of their visa or job status,” Dr Polumuru said.

“Some people who are working from home still feel that they need not get vaccinated as they are not exposed.

"But community protection comes once everyone gets vaccinated.

“Immunity is only possible through vaccination and by following standard precautions.”

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