Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Dubai explained: can you be exempt from PCR testing and who cannot take the shot?

Authorities in Dubai have answered a number of key queries about the emirate's inoculation campaign

The first Dubai residents received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday after an extensive inoculation drive was approved.

It is the second vaccine to be introduced in the Emirates in the fight against Covid-19, following China's Sinopharm shot last month.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention announced the emergency registration of the vaccine in the country late on Tuesday.

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management are overseeing the major campaign.

Authorities have taken steps to answer the most pressing questions surrounding the public health initiative.

Who is able to receive the vaccine and how much does it cost?

The vaccine is being given free of charge.

The first phase of the campaign will target people in four categories.

The first will be Emiratis and residents aged 60 and above, those with chronic diseases and people with disabilities

The second category comprises frontline workers in both the public and private sectors.

The third category is workers in essential sectors and the fourth category is members of the public who wish to get vaccinated.

The DHA said it had approved specific numbers from each vaccination category according to the planned stages and priorities.

Where is the vaccine available?

It is available by appointment at six health centres: Zabeel Primary Health Care Centre, Al Mizhar Primary Health Care Centre, Nad Al Hamr Primary Health Care Centre, Barsha Primary Health Care Centre, Uptown Mirdif Medical Fitness Centre and Hatta Hospital.

For appointments, call the DHA hotline at 800 342.

Is the vaccine mandatory?

No. The vaccination is voluntary.

Can a person who has previously contracted Covid-19 be vaccinated?

Those who have previously been infected with Covid-19 are able to receive the shot. But only three months after the date of infection.

What If you have received another vaccination, such as a flu shot?

Those who taken other shots are still able to receive the Pfizer vaccine. However, there must be a four-week gap between the two vaccinations.

Is it safe to take more than one form of Covid-19 vaccine?

No. Health officials say people should receive only one of the two vaccines currently available in Dubai.

Can I take just one dose or delay the second shot?

The vaccine course consists of two doses 21 days apart. Health officials strongly recommend people do not deviate from this schedule.

Do I still need to take a PCR test to travel or for pre-surgical procedures in Dubai?

Authorities have confirmed that PCR tests are still required in such circumstances. There is no exemption for those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Do I still need to wear a face mask after receiving the vaccine?

All members of the public who have taken the Pfizer vaccine must continue to follow the country's Covid-19 safety rules. This includes wearing face masks, maintaining social-distancing practices and washing hands regularly.

What groups cannot take the Pfizer vaccine?

The categories of people not eligible to receive vaccine are::

• People under the age of 18.

• Pregnant women.

• Women who are breastfeeding

• Women who are trying to conceive

• Immunocompromised people

• People allergic to any other vaccine, food, substance, medication or who carry adrenaline auto injectors.

What are the common side effects of this vaccine?

Side effects include fatigue, headaches, fever and pain in the area of injection.