Reviewed 30 July 2021
The UAE has been cited as one of the successful cases in terms of the handling of the pandemic. The emirate has recorded a low number of cases and coronavirus-related deaths so far.
With many understandably hoping that the inoculation campaign would spell the beginning of the end of the pandemic, we take a closer look at the vaccines, both currently available and under review in UAE, their efficacy, required doses, and more.
Which vaccines are available and how effective are they?
There are five vaccines in the UAE for use on eligible individuals against the COVID-19 infection: one by Sinopharm, the other by Pfizer-BioNTech, the third by Sputnik V followed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Sinopharm and Hayat Vax
As per MOHAP, Sinopharm-CNBG’s interim analysis of the phase III trials of Chinese-made Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine, it has:
- 86 percent efficiency against COVID-19 infection
- 99 percent seroconversion rate of neutralizing antibody
- 100 percent effectiveness in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease.
Furthermore, the analysis shows no serious safety concerns.
The country has also started production of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine locally under the name Hayat Vax. G42, an Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company, is manufacturing vials of the vaccine in Ras Al Khaimah in collaboration with the drug-maker, Julphar.
The Pfizer vaccine works with two doses where the second one is registered 21 days after the first one. On administration of the first dose, the immune system is alerted, and post the second one, it gets a boost, thus providing the immunity to fight off the virus.
Efficacy is 52% after the first dose and raises up to 95% after the second jab. So, it takes around four weeks to build immunity after the first dose (which could happen earlier as well).
The first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine utilizes adenovirus 26 as the vector for the coronavirus surface protein, while the second dose uses adenovirus 5. While there are other adenovirus-based vaccines on the market today, Gamaleya, Sputnik V manufacturer, claims that theirs is the only vaccine utilizing the two-vector vaccination system.
Sputnik V vaccine’s effectiveness against COVID-19 is confirmed at 91.4 percent, while its efficacy against severe cases of the disease is 100 percent.
The ChAdOx1 COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in conjunction with the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca is based on the virus’s genetic instructions for building the spike protein, which are stored using double-stranded DNA. The first jab prompts the immune system to start making antibodies while the second one strengthens the immune response, thus priming the body against coronavirus.
Results have revealed that the vaccine was only 62% effective when participants were given two full doses, but its efficacy rose to 90% when a half dose followed by a full dose was administered.
The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine requires two doses to be administered, with the second dose recommended to be taken 28 days following the initial shot.
The Moderna vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy of approximately 94.1 per cent in protecting against COVID-19, starting 14 days after the first dose.
How much does the COVID-19 vaccination cost?
Vaccines against COVID-19 are available throughout the UAE, free of charge for medically eligible citizens and residents, according to the priority announced by the UAE’s health authorities from time to time.
Vaccine priority list: Who can get vaccinated right now?
Vaccines will be administered to the following people on priority. They are eligible to walk into most vaccination centres and clinics without an appointment:
- UAE nationals and their household workers
- Residents who are 50 years old and above
- People of determination
- People with chronic illnesses
The vaccine is now available to all eligible Emiratis over 16 years of age, as the six-week priority entitlement is now over. Note that it is mandatory for them to take appointments, as walk-in vaccinations are reserved only for the most vulnerable people.
People with a history of convulsions, epilepsy, encephalopathy or mental illness, and coagulation dysfunction, and those with a recent history of disorders like Guillain Barre syndrome or transverse myelitis will not be administered the shots. If you have a history of allergic reactions to vaccinations or have taken any live attenuated vaccine in the past month, you too can’t take the jab in this drive. Individuals who had volunteered for the 4Humanity Phase 3 clinical trials will also not be eligible again.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has now been approved in Abu Dhabi as well and is being administered in several centres across the emirate through appointments.
Dubai, too, has expanded its vaccination program to include Dubai resident visa holders aged 40 and above. They can now register at Dubai Health Authority facilities to receive the jabs. The DHA will also accept registrations from elderly individuals above 60 years of age with a valid resident visa issued in any emirate if they can prove they are residing in Dubai. It has also lowered the minimum age bar of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from 18 to 16. The AstraZeneca shots can now be administered to people above 65 years of age as well.
The DHA also announced that, unlike before, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and women who are planning to conceive can take the Pfizer vaccine from 17 April. COVID-19 patients are also eligible now to take the shots as soon as their isolation period is over, they don’t have to wait for 3 months to pass.
— هيئة الصحة بدبي (@DHA_Dubai) April 17, 2021
What are booster Shots?
Those who have been fully immunized in Abu Dhabi with the Sinopharm vaccine can now opt to take the Pfizer vaccine as a booster shot. This supplementary dose will be available only after 3 months from taking the second dose of Sinopharm.
Such booster shots will be administered at the Mubadala Health vaccination centre. Pre-booked appointments are a must.
Those who wish to further enhance their immunity to the virus should fill up the form available at the centre and get another form signed by a doctor. Both the forms, titled ‘Consent to take different Covid-19 vaccine type than the previously received vaccine type’, are available free of cost at the Mubadala vaccination centre. Carry the two forms with you at the time of vaccination.
On 18 May, the Emirati health authorities approved a booster dose of the Sinopharm vaccine. To further increase the efficacy of the vaccine, the country will be administering a third of the vaccine to vaccinated individuals, 6 months after they complete the two-dose regimen. Priority would be given to senior citizens and people with chronic diseases.
How can I get vaccinated now?
Book an appointment with any one of the authorities:
- Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP)
- SEHA through the SEHA app available on Google Play and App Store for vaccination at their drive-through centres and temporary sites across the UAE
- Dubai Health Authority through the DHA app available on App Store and Google Play or the call centre by calling on the toll-free number 800-342.
The following is the detailed procedure and steps to receive the vaccine:
- Register via any of the above-mentioned sites
- You will receive a text with instructions and tips (if you meet the criteria)
- Make sure you read the consent form
- The centre will check your vital signs when you arrive
- You will receive the first dose of the vaccine
- You need to wait at the clinic for 20 minutes after receiving the vaccine
- You will receive an SMS 15 minutes after you receive the vaccine
- The SMS will provide details of your vaccination certificate and the appointment date and time for your second dose
Where to get vaccinated?
The vaccines are also available at several private hospitals across the UAE free of charge. View the list of SEHA’s vaccination centres here.