Covid-19 vaccine booster to be given after six to eight months, says Emirati official

Public was urged not to take a different vaccine until more research is done

Explained: UAE to offer third dose of Sinopharm as booster

The UAE public is to be offered booster shots for most coronavirus vaccines this year, but not until six to eight months after a second dose.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, the federal government's health spokeswoman, said third doses should not be taken too early.

"The duration might differ from vaccine to vaccine but it's expected that after six to eight months... most of the Covid vaccines will require a booster dose," she told Dubai Eye radio on Tuesday.

It is normal that you will get low antibodies after three months from the second dose

"The priority will be the elderly and people who have chronic diseases, because they have a higher risk of getting the complications of the disease.

"But, with time, we are recommending that everyone should get it [the booster]."

Antibody tests are available in some hospitals, and the government said people found to have a low antibodies count can ask to have a booster earlier.

But Dr Al Hosani said her advice would be to wait until the six month mark whatever the result.

"Even if the antibodies are low, it's better to wait," she said.

“We are actually not recommending the antibody test before taking the refresher.

"Most likely, it is normal that you will get low antibodies after three months from the second dose, and this is the case for most of the vaccines as well."

Mixing vaccine types

Dr Al Hosani also reiterated that people who have had one vaccine should not try to get a different brand as a booster.

Her advice came as some residents who took the Sinopharm vaccine - which was approved by the World Health Organisation but not recognised by Europe's medical regulator - sought Pfizer-BioNTech injections to travel abroad.

“We are currently not recommending the mixing of vaccines, simply because there is not enough data about the safety of the practice," Dr Al Hosani said.

"You will see that most of the countries also warned about mixing the vaccine.

"There are only very limited studies that are going on regarding mixing, for example between AstraZeneca and Pfizer, but we are not sure about the safety of such a practice and what could be the side effects of it."

Which booster jab?

Last month, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said people were likely to need a third dose of a vaccine between six and 12 months after their second, and this week the UK announced a trial of seven vaccines to see which would work best as a booster jab for its citizens.

Four vaccines have been authorised for use in the UAE: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and the Chinese-made Sinopharm, which is now being manufactured by UAE firm Julphar in Ras Al Khaimah under the name Hayat-Vax.

In Pictures: Hayat-Vax factory in Ras Al Khaimah