UAE: Expat parents share experiences, as kids get their first Pfizer-BioNTech jab
Kids looking forward to returning to school after taking vaccination
Now that they have received the first dose of their vaccinations against Covid-19, expatriate children in the UAE, between the age groups of 12-15, are looking forward to returning to school, Khaleej Times has learnt.
The students are looking forward to heading out for sports activities, having face-to-face interactions with their peers and classmates, and living a slightly more stress-free life.
Scores of parents UAE parents, whose kids have taken the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, and over the weekend shared their experience with Khaleej Times.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Protection (MoHAP) approved the emergency use of the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine for the 12 to 15 age group after strict clinical trials.
Moreover, doctors who have been at the forefront in the battle against Covid-19 in the UAE have said the vaccine must be given to teenagers so UAE can return to some form of normalcy.
Here is what UAE parents have to say about their kids’ vaccine experience:
>> Fifteen- year-old Riva Tulpule, a student of GEMS Modern Academy, received the jab on Tuesday, May 18. The family booked the appointment on the UAE Covid- 19 MoHAP app.
Her father Rahul Tulpule, a Dubai – based businessman and social worker said the family travelled to the Ajman Society of Social and Cultural Development as appointments were tough to find in Dubai. He said, “Her second dose is now due on June 8. She had discomfort in her arm in the first day after she took the jab, but she’s back to studies, playing her sports, and everything else.”
Tulpule said the family feels a lot more confident now that their daughter has taken the vaccine. “She returned to school three weeks ago. The entire last year, she studied at home,” he added. The family also hopes that Riva’s example would inspire other kids to do the same. “We are now hoping that they open up the vaccine for kids aged 6-12 so we can give it to our younger daughter as well,” he said.
>> Nandita Mathur, a UAE resident for 20 years, took her daughter Nikita, a GEMS Modern Academy student, to receive the jab at the Dubai Parks and Resorts Centre. “She is 12 and a half years old. The entire process was really smooth, right from booking the appointment to receiving the jab. She’s excited to go to school,” she said.
“We feel this sense of confidence now, especially since my aged mom is living with us. My daughter shares a room with her grandmom, and once she receives both doses, I will send her back to school. My son, who is 17, has also taken the vaccine,” stated Mathur.
>> Reshma Praveen, a Dubai resident for 19 years said her 12-year- old son Meet Praveen took the vaccine last week. He is a student of International school Choueifat. “A day after he took the jab, Meet went to school and faced no problems, except for a slight pain on the arm.”
Avoid giving kids’ paracetamol unless their post-vaccine symptoms are severe
Many parents who have eagerly lined up to get vaccinated against Covid-19 still have questions about getting their children the shot. Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, a specialist pulmonologist and leading UAE expert on the Covid-19 crisis at the Medor Hospital in Dubai said giving the vaccine for kids is a must.
However, he has advised parents to refrain from giving their kids paracetamol unless the post-vaccine symptoms are severe. “Kids have better immunity than the elderly, and they will probably react more strongly to the vaccine. Obviously, it depends on child to child, but in some cases, their response to the jab might be more intense.”
He said, “Unless the child is prone to fever-resultant seizures, it is best to wait at least 24 to 36 hours to give a child paracetamol. Avoid giving it if the child has a mild fever of 38 degrees.” He said this could suppress the natural immunity-building process.
“Vaccine immunity is better than disease immunity. Let the child recover by themselves. If the child is showing a severe reaction against the vaccine, rush them to the nearest hospital. However, there have been little or no known cases of a bad reaction in this age group,” he said.
Over time, Dr Sainalabdeen predicts that the vaccine will eventually be given to infants as young as two years old. “The tests are under process in the US,” he added. He also rubbished rumours that the vaccine impacts brain development, causes infertility and changes the DNA.
“There are no studies to support these claims. Once the kids have taken the jabs, parents can confidently send their children to school because that is important for the child's overall development. All education does not happen at home, and the vaccine is one of the ways to lead a normal life,” said the doctor.
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