Coronavirus Pandemic

Residents, citizens hail Dubai's free vaccination drive

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on January 5, 2021


Uptick in traffic around the DHA’s healthcare centre at Al Barsha

Citizens and residents in Dubai continue to walk in early in visible numbers at various health care centres across the city to receive the two available Covid-19 jabs.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination drive kicked off on December 23, while China's Sinopharm vaccine rolled out from the second week of December.

Khaleej Times noticed that there was an uptick in traffic around the DHA’s healthcare centre at Al Barsha.

While some people look nervous initially as they enter the premises, most of them come out beaming in no time.

After the temperature checks were done on the ground floor, those wishing to be inoculated were directed to the Covid-19 Vaccine Service on the first floor.

People were made to sit in a large hallway as they waited for their token numbers that were being announced. Nurses donned the PPE suits, ushered in people in a reassuring voice.

An elderly Indian couple who didn’t wish to be named hailed the free vaccination drive by the Dubai Health Authority, saying that it brought much needed respite.

The expat couple explained, “We are so impressed by the way it was organised. It was excellent. The entire process was quick. We just showed our token number, Emirates ID and were made to sign a document. After that, we got the vaccine shot, we were asked to wait for 20 minutes as we were observed for any side effects. We felt completely fine. Everything happened smoothly. We felt relieved – as a senior citizen one needs to be more cautious.”

As the vaccine makes a critical addition to our defences against Covid-19, the peace of mind is almost immediately palpable on the faces of people on the premises.

The DHA’s vaccination drive dispenses the Pfizer-BioNTech jab at six health centres – Zabeel, Al Mizhar, Nadd Al Hamar, Al Barsha, Uptown Mirdif and Hatta Hospital.

A Dubai Municipality worker was among the early birds today to receive his jab under the first phase of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination campaign.

Reiterating how efficient and seamless the entire experience was, Kamal Hussain opined, “It barely took any time to complete the entire process. After I booked an appointment on DHA’s app, I received a message, I then came here and everything got done in less than 30 minutes. This also includes the time I was kept under observation after taking the jab. I am so pleased to be getting the Covid-19 vaccine. I will come back for my next dose after the stipulated time.”

Eligibility norms for the Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine stipulate that people above 60, frontline healthcare workers, people of determination and those with comorbidities will be entertained in Phase I.

Megha who is in her 40s was also among those who had registered for the vaccine in the early phase.

The Indian expat points out, “I wanted to go in for the Pfizer vaccine as it has a proven efficacy of 95 per cent and I am eligible for this in Phase I as I have asthma. I was keen on being vaccinated early as I am understandably more vulnerable.”

She later says, “I had taken the flu vaccine earlier, so I waited for a while and then came for the Covid-19 vaccine. The government’s free vaccination drive is really praiseworthy. The doctors, nurses and staff are really patient and very professional.”

Meanwhile, many people have also signed up for China's Sinopharm vaccine. The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) offers the jab for free at three health centres in Dubai – Al Ittihad, Hor Al Anz and Al Qusais.

Residents don’t need to take an appointment to get this jab. All they require is to carry their Emirates ID.

Some people also return for booster shots. Sanchit Singh Thapa, 19, who went back for his booster dose at the field hospital in Dubai Parks and Resorts noted, the whole process felt like a breeze the second time too.

He explained, “For the follow up dose, I was given a pink band and the entire process was much faster as it entailed less paperwork. Although, I am young, I wanted to get the Covid-19 vaccine early because I go out often and do a lot of front facing. My parents are elderly and have different health conditions. So, I don't want to be a silent carrier of the disease and jeopardise their health. Even now when I go out, I wear a mask and follow other standard safety measures.”

Dubai resident, Anuroopa Mukherjee who is keen on taking the Sinopharm vaccine also visited a nearby healthcare centre administering the vaccine.

She says, “I really wanted to see if people are coming out in large numbers. To my pleasant surprise, they are. I went to the Hor Al Anz Health Centre that’s close to my house. IT really boosted my confidence. I went there to inquire about a few things before getting the vaccine. I did get a lot of information. I also read the consent form which is a two-pager and saw all the details pertaining to the vaccine and its after effects, if any. Now, I feel even more positive about it and really think this is the way forward for a safe society.”

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