First booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine administered in UAE

Small number of people receive third shot of Sinopharm vaccine to prompt production of antibodies

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A small number of people in the UAE have received a third Covid-19 vaccine "booster" shot that aims to prompt an immune response against the virus.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the country's health sector, said vaccinated residents and Emiratis who did not develop antibodies against Covid-19 could take a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine.

"Some people received a third dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, but the number is very minimal compared to those who received doses one and two," Dr Al Hosani told The National.

The vaccine is available for free across the country and is administered up to 28 days apart.

Tests in the UAE suggested it was 86 per cent effective against preventing infection, although the maker revised the figure to 79.34 per cent after it received more data.

Its effectiveness kicks in up to 28 days after the second dose.

More than 6.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered across the country.

Most are Sinopharm doses, but it also includes Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik, each of which have been approved for local use to some degree.

The National  asked Dr Al Hosani questions related to vaccines and cases of Covid-19. Here are her answers, which have been edited for style:

If someone does not develop antibodies after vaccination can they take a different vaccine?

Under current available scientific information, it is not advisable to take different types of Covid-19 vaccines.

It is recommended to take the same vaccine, if required, and in accordance with regulatory body guidelines.

If someone has Covid-19 antibodies from infection, are they allowed the same privileges vaccinated people have?

The current privileges are only given to vaccinated people and participants of Phase 3 of the clinical trials.

Read more: Vaccinated people in Abu Dhabi need weekly PCR tests to be eligible for exemptions

A few people have reported being unable to receive the second vaccine. Why is that? Will the vaccine be as effective if they are delayed in receiving their second shot?

All vaccination centres were told to give priority to the elderly, above people with chronic conditions and people with disabilities, while also administering the second dose for eligible individuals.

It is highly recommended to take the second dose 21 to 28 days after the first.

However, if a delay is unavoidable, taking the second dose beyond the recommended time interval will still be effective.

How will authorities resolve the issue of demand for vaccines outstripping supply?

At this stage, health authorities are giving the priority to specific, vulnerable groups in addition to all people eligible for the second dose.

It is important to highlight that the UAE is one of the leading countries around the world in securing supplies of Covid-19 vaccine for their population.

Due to collaborative efforts of the health sector and the commitment of the UAE community, vaccination coverage in the UAE is by far the fastest in the world.

Will Abu Dhabi approve the use of other vaccines?

The current available vaccine in Abu Dhabi for Covid-19 is Sinopharm.

Vaccination is an important measure to help stop the pandemic. We all need vaccines throughout our lives to help protect against serious diseases.

Can someone who recovered from Covid-19 get the vaccine? If so, where can they receive it?

People with a history of Covid-19 infection need to see a doctor before vaccination to assess the severity of their infection.

Usually, people with no symptoms or who had mild symptoms can be vaccinated after full recovery.

All information about healthcare centres providing vaccines can be found on the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and Department of Health Abu Dhabi websites.

Has there been an increase in Covid-19 patients who are either partially or fully vaccinated?

No. There has not been an increase in Covid-19 patients who are partially or fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated people are instructed to follow the same precautionary measures of social distancing, wearing a face mask and frequently washing their hands.

Once many people are vaccinated, the Covid-19 virus is less likely to spread in the community.

However, it is also important to continue following all the precautionary measures to prevent its spread.

What are the average ages of Covid-19 patients requiring hospital stays in the UAE? Has this changed since the outbreak?

Most of the cases requiring admission to hospital and who are most at risk of complications and death are of old age (above 65) and have chronic conditions like heart and kidney disease.