Authorities in Sharjah embarked on a home vaccination drive to ensure the elderly and people with disabilities are protected against Covid-19.
Twenty teams from Sharjah Social Services Home Care started giving the Sinopharm vaccine this week in a series of home visits to bolster the UAE's efforts to inoculate half of the population by the end of March.
The initiative was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Prevention with the goal of making the vaccine accessible to people who may struggle to go to a medical centre.
Hundreds of residents eligible for the service have already booked appointments using the free vaccine hotline – 800 700.
“Our teams work from 12pm to 7pm five days a week,” said Khulood Al Ali, head of the home care section at the social services department.
UAE launches Covid-19 vaccination campaign
As well as safeguarding the elderly and disabled people, their family members and domestic workers can also be vaccinated against the disease by the care teams.
The strategy creates the opportunity for the mass inoculation of people who may otherwise have been out of the reach of health services.
As with vaccination in a hospital or clinic, strict safety measures are followed.
“We have one family that includes 30 members,” said Ms Ali.
“Those suffering from any health condition that makes it a risk for them to take the vaccine are informed they can't get it.”
The National joined the team on their rounds as two nurses and a social services professional carried vaccine doses in containers to the home of Khamees Al Miselhi, 74.
Although he was unable to take the vaccine because of a heart condition, his wife, Najma Ali Al Amri, 62, and eight others in the household, including his son, daughters-in-law, granddaughters and domestic workers, were able to receive their first dose.
Their IDs were scanned on Wareed, an electronic healthcare information system that links all ministry healthcare centres in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
Workers arranged to return to homes to givethe second dose of the vaccine within 28 days.
"Our sheikhs lead by example. They took the vaccine, so why should we not," said Mr Al Miselhi.
“Its important to immunise our bodies and I urge people to come forward and take it.”
Manilyn Olila, 24, the family's Filipina maid, said she was
keen to be vaccinated to protect the health of others.
"I want to take it, because I want to be safe for my three-year-old son and for the people I work for and live with,” she said.
The vaccination team changed their protective equipment before moving on to the house of Ali Abu Hindi, 65.
He was unable to take the vaccine because of recent health issues, but his 26-year-old son, Mua'ath, was happy to roll up his sleeve to receive the vaccine.
Two daughters, Mira, a nursing school graduate, and Mahra, an English teacher, received their first dose of the vaccine next.
“I was nervous about this whole thing at first, but volunteering at Al Qasimi hospital after my graduation last December changed my perception,” said Mira.
She volunteered to help the home care service.
“I want to do something good for my country and people,” she said.
One of the Abu Hindi household's domestic workers, Gina Rinon, 45, from the Philippines, had reservations about taking the vaccine before a nurse put her at ease.
"It is very safe. The side effects are so mild they might not even happen and if they did, it might be a slight fever, all you would need for is a Panadol," a nurse told her.
Parmila Chhayakar, 55, has worked as a nurse at Sharjah home care for 20 years.
“The people we have seen during this campaign were very keen on taking the vaccine,” she said.
“I find Emiratis to be very health-conscious people and they set an example for others.”