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Updated 6 October 2021
In an effort to enhance immunity levels and offer further protection against the infection, health authorities of the UAE have decided to give the option of taking a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot to fully vaccinated community members who have taken the Pfizer and Sinopharm jabs.
Keep reading to know more about the Pfizer booster shot in the UAE, why and how you can get it and the vaccination regimen you should follow.
The Pfizer booster shot program in the UAE
Third dose Pfizer shot
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will start administering a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine to certain residents with compromised immune systems.
Among those eligible for the Pfizer booster shot are:
- People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems
- Individuals who have an active tumor and haematologic malignancy or have recently received treatment for the condition
- Recipients of a solid organ transplant or patients who have undergone haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT)
- People who suffer from a severe case of primary immunodeficiency
- Patients with advanced or untreated HIV
- Patients undergoing active treatment with agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
The shot will be available to those aged 60 and above, patients in long-term care facilities aged 18 and up, and those aged 50-59 underlying medical conditions.
— Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) September 2, 2021
As a boost for Sinopharm
Abu Dhabi has made booster doses mandatory for people who were inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine. Vaccinated individuals who received their second dose of Sinopharm vaccine more than six months ago must receive a booster dose to enhance their immunity. Other vaccines don’t currently require booster doses.
Vaccinated individuals who received their second dose of Sinopharm vaccine more than six months ago must receive a booster dose to enhance their immunity and comply with approved health protocol for each vaccine. pic.twitter.com/3jobXGx6Wx
— مكتب أبوظبي الإعلامي (@admediaoffice) August 29, 2021
Rest of the Emirates
According to the current guidelines, residents can now receive one Pfizer booster shot six months after receiving their second Sinopharm vaccination dose. This is a proactive step taken by the UAE government to improve the immunity of the people against COVID-19 and reduce the chances of contracting the infection.
The Sinopharm vaccine relies on the older but tested technology, which involves taking an inactivated form of the virus to stimulate the body’s immune response. Sinopharm is being administered via two injections administered 21 days apart to people aged 16 and over.
On the other hand, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) vaccine. The vaccine carries genetic instructions that help the recipient’s cells produce protein pieces that trigger immune system response. The response is in the form of the reproduction of millions of copies of spike protein, which stimulates antibodies.
Why should you get the booster shot?
Emiratis citizens are looking forward to getting their booster shots either because they want to improve their immunity or because they want to travel to Europe, where Pfizer and AstraZeneca are among the approved vaccines.
Dr. Gehad ElGhazali, the lead immunologist at the government-run Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, reported a “very strong” response in the body’s immune system once a double dose of the Sinopharm vaccine was topped up with a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Dr. ElGhazali said immunity began to drop six months after a second dose of the Sinopharm shot was administered, but a booster was safe and effective in tests.
Several UAE doctors recommend that the third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine helps in increasing immunity among the vulnerable including immune compromised patients.
Dr. Adil Sajwani, specialist, family medicine at Fakeeh University Hospital said: “It is evident that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has a good response in fighting coronavirus, and the third dose is recommended for the people with a medical history.” Patients undergoing treatment for cancer and immuno-therapy and those with low immune response will have lower immunity against coronavirus and thus may require a booster shot to increase the immunity against COVID-19, he added.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) also strongly suggests all eligible citizens to get their booster shots.
— NCEMA UAE (@NCEMAUAE) August 31, 2021
Where and how can you get the Pfizer booster shot?
There are several vaccination centres in Abu Dhabi administering Pfizer vaccines. For the full list of vaccination centres, head to doh.gov.au. Vaccination centres under the VPS Healthcare group also offer booster doses for the eligible groups through walk-ins in the Abu Dhabi region
- In Dubai, vaccine appointments can be booked through the DHA’s app or through its WhatsApp account 800342 by sending “Hi” message.
- In Abu Dhabi, appointments can be booked by calling Seha’s customer service centre on 80050, or through the Seha app.
Patients should be assessed by their doctors before taking the third dose. If a third dose must be administered, their physicians will book the appointment for them in the same hospital.
According to international studies, individuals who are fully vaccinated and do not have an immune disease will not need to take an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for now, the DHA said.
What are the side effects of the Pfizer booster shot?
Eighty-eight percent of survey participants stated they felt “similar or better” in the days after the third injection than they did after the second shot.
Thirty-one per cent reported some side effects, the most common being soreness at the injection site. About 0.4 per cent said they suffered difficulty breathing, and 1 per cent said they sought medical treatment owing to one or more side effects.
Participants in the booster study had 3.3 times greater antibody levels one month after receiving the booster than one month after receiving their second dose.
Can you get more than one Pfizer/Sinopharm booster shots?
Two shots of Sinopharm and a Pfizer (booster) are enough to ensure maximum protection. A third dose of Pfizer or Sinopharm shot is the recommended dosage and it is strongly advised to adhere to the same.
The COVID-19 data analysis clearly shows that vaccinated people are safe from contracting the virus. However, it doesn’t mean that people should try to get more vaccine shots than specified by the health ministry.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) has strictly advised against taking two doses of the Pfizer booster shot instead of the recommended dosage of a single booster shot after six months.
Health Sector: We noticed that some insist on taking more than the recommended doses for #Covid19, which contradicts medical opinion and may expose them to undesired complications, so, we advise all to adhere to the medical opinion. #TogetherWeRecover
— NCEMA UAE (@NCEMAUAE) June 27, 2021
Some people may insist on taking more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine than recommended, which contradicts the opinion of doctors, and which may expose them to unwanted health complications. This should be strictly avoided.
Fully vaccinated community members should not insist on taking more than one dose of the COVID booster vaccine, as doing so may cause complications, Dr. Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson, UAE health sector, said during a media briefing.
How much is the Pfizer booster shot?
The booster shot is available free of cost.