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Updated 2 August 2021
The rapid rollout of vaccines and leading the world in testing is testimony of UAE’s success in containing the spread. Around 70% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated and millions more are in line to get their final dose. Ever since the vaccine rollout, medical experts around the globe have repeatedly stressed the importance of getting both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for maximum immunity.
Vaccine efficacy after the second dose
Currently, there are five vaccines in the UAE for use on eligible individuals against the COVID-19 infection:
With COVID-19, there is strong evidence that taking a second dose increases your defense against the disease, as the second dose has been found to improve overall efficacy.
With the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, protection against symptomatic COVID-19 was found to be 52% from 12 days after the first dose (immunity takes time to build). Protection then rose to 95% after the second dose.
With the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, protection against symptomatic COVID-19 from 22 days after the first dose was estimated to be 76%. When a second dose was given 12 weeks after the first, it raised protection to 81%.
It was found that up to 14 days after the first dose, the effectiveness of Moderna was 50.8 percent. After the second dose, it takes about 2 weeks for your body to build full immunity. After that time period, the vaccine is approximately 94.1 percent effective.
Preliminary data from volunteers obtained 42 days after the first dose (corresponds with 21 days after the second dose) indicates the Sputnik V’s efficacy is above 95 percent. A recent study has shown that a single dose of Sputnik-V vaccine has shown 94 percent efficacy, but only among those recovered Covid-19 patients.
Why is it important to get your second dose vaccine?
Getting both doses of these vaccines maximizes your ability to receive full immunity from the vaccine.
Stronger defense than the first dose
The first dose of the vaccine does not produce protective immunity but prepares the immune system to fight against COVID-19. It is the second dose that triggers the immune system to produce a large number of antibodies, resulting in cell-mediated immunity.
Immunologists call this method of giving people multiple doses “prime-boosting.” Essentially, you first teach the immune system what it is looking for – you prime it with the first vaccination. Then, after the immune system has had time to respond to the priming, it is challenged again with the second vaccine dose.
Better resistance against variants
There’s also now an extra reason you should get your second dose: new coronavirus variants of concern. These are forms of the coronavirus that have genetic mutations that may make them more transmissible, less susceptible to the protective effects of vaccines, harder to detect or cause more severe disease.
From late 2020, the UK struggled against the alpha variant, a more transmissible form of the virus that became dominant over winter. This variant has since been out-competed by the delta variant, an even more transmissible form of the virus that is now dominant instead.
Vaccines approved in the UAE have so far been able to effectively neutralize the delta variant to a great extent.
In addition to such safety reasons, you can travel more freely by showcasing your vaccination certificate, surpassing testing and quarantine requirements.
Several countries across the globe have opened their borders for fully vaccinated travellers, even allowing them to bypass quarantine requirements. Many countries are also mandating that visitors be fully vaccinated before entry or to avoid quarantine.
Fully vaccinated citizens and residents in the UAE with a valid Schengen visa (if needed) can travel to several European countries without quarantine.
Meanwhile, travellers holding vaccination certificates issued by health authorities can travel to and from certain countries and the UAE without having to quarantine on arrival. Till date, the UAE has established such vaccine bubbles with Bahrain, Greece, Seychelles, and Serbia.
Second dose side effects
The second shot can be followed by symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, and soreness at the injection site on their arm. In most cases, that’s actually a good thing. These common symptoms are typically signs that the vaccine has triggered a response by your immune system. And that’s what it is supposed to do.
While side effects are expected after the first dose, they tend to be more common after the second dose of the vaccine. This is because the body is armed with antibodies and memory T cells that recognize the virus protein from the first shot. The immune system response tends to be more robust when the second dose is delivered.
Reports of fatigue — the most common side effect — as well as headache and chills tended to be more likely after the second dose than the first vaccine shot. Such mild side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination tend to clear up within 48 hours of injection. Side effects are typically more pronounced among younger people than older people because their immune systems are more robust.
Serious side effects, such as anaphylactic allergic reactions, are rare.
How to book your second dose appointment in the UAE?
You can schedule your second dose vaccine appointment while initially booking your first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. After your initial shot, you would be notified of your second dose via SMS.
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
All vaccines are available for free for medically eligible citizens and residents throughout the UAE.
How long is the gap between 1st and 2nd dose?
It is important to keep record of the second dose appointment and adhere to attend to ensure the required level of immunity and the maximum benefit from the vaccine. The recommended time gap between the two doses of vaccine in the UAE are as follows:
- Pfizer/BioNTech: 21 days
- Oxford-AstraZeneca: 8-12 weeks
- Moderna: 28 days
- Sputnik V: 28 days
- Sinopharm: 3–4 weeks
Can you get a different vaccine for your second dose?
Experts are still out on whether using different vaccine for your second dose enhances the efficacy of vaccination. It’s currently recommended that you get the same brand of vaccine for your first and second dose.
However, the UAE government has also offered a Pfizer booster shot for residents who have previously taken two doses of Sinopharm vaccine.