Dubai plans to vaccinate 70 per cent of population by end of 2021 in 'herd immunity' plan

Second phase will see all residents invited to get the shots from April, chairwoman of vaccine campaign committee Farida al-Khaja says

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Related: Full guide to Dubai's Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine campaign

Dubai plans to inoculate 70 per cent of its population with the Pfizer-BioNTech by the end of 2021, in a campaign free of charge for citizens and residents, a health official said.

The emirate began the first phase of the vaccination campaign last week, focusing on priority groups including those 60 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, those with disabilities and frontline workers.

"We are targeting to vaccinate approximately 70 per cent of the population of Dubai by the end of 2021. We want to reach the herd immunity that is required," said Farida al-Khaja, chairwoman of Dubai's steering committee for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Ms Khaja said a second phase beginning in April would be open to all citizens and residents.

The UAE's health ministry has registered the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for emergency use.

The vaccine has been approved in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Gulf states, among others and found to be 95 per cent effective.

The UAE was the first country outside China to roll out the Sinopharm vaccine to the public and said earlier this month it was 86 per cent effective.

Its phase III clinical trials in the UAE included 31,000 volunteers from 125 nationalities.

The Sinopharm vaccine continues to be distributed in Abu Dhabi and at Dubai's Parks and Resorts field hospital.

It is available for any resident of the UAE, including Dubai residents with Abu Dhabi visas.

Emaad Alvi, a senior at Cornell University who is also a resident of Dubai, received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week.

"The reason I chose to get the vaccine ASAP is because I'm asthmatic and I have trust in the doctors and I think the vaccine should be fine," he said.