Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE's Covid vaccine booster shot after 6 months: All your questions answered

SM Ayaz Zakir/Dubai
Filed on May 19, 2021

The additional jab will further boost one’s immunity and produce antibodies that can help ward off the coronavirus.

With Sinopharm booster shots approved for residents, the UAE is believed to be the first country to have made the third dose of a Covid vaccine available.

UAE residents will be able to get the booster shot six months after they receive their second dose, with priority given to senior citizens and those with chronic diseases.

The additional jab will further boost one’s immunity and produce antibodies that can help ward off the coronavirus. A number of UAE doctors answered some of the top questions about the shot.

What is a booster shot?

A booster dose is an extra administration of a vaccine after an earlier dose. After initial immunisation, a booster injection is a re-exposure to the immunising antigen. (Dr Jyoti Upadhyay, internal medicine specialist, Aster Hospital, Mankhool)

When we say booster, it means the supplementary dose of an immunising agent administered as an injection that will give more protection against certain diseases, and it’s for everyone. (Dr Rasha Alani, family medicine specialist at Medcare Medical Centre Al Khawaneej.)

Is the booster shot necessary for everyone?

Everybody needs booster shots to retain the immunity against Covid-19, as it can be compromised after a certain period time. The boosters are advisable for the vulnerable group and children as they are prone to have higher health complications. (Dr Bobomurod Keldiyorov, family medicine specialist, Canadian Specialist Hospital)

This booster shot is particularly important for seniors and patients with chronic diseases. It protects them from infection and complications that may lead to death. (Dr Rasha)

What are other diseases that required booster shots?

Diseases like hepatitis A and B don’t require boosters as no special precautions are needed. But patients with tetanus require booster shots every 10 years and people with influenza need them every year. In the case of Covid-19, research is under way. Booster shots may or may not be required in the future as it is a new disease for us. (Dr Bobomurod)

Some vaccines, such as those for measles, last a lifetime. Others, such as flu vaccines, require annual updates. In this case, boosters are designed to target new mutations of a fast evolving virus. (Dr Jyoti)

How does a booster shot work?

The antibody response to the booster dose is characterised by a shorter lag period as the body is previously exposed to the vaccine. The response is prompt and produces significant levels of antibodies that may last for longer periods. (Dr Ramesh, internal medicine specialist, Aster Hospital, Qusais)

Why does it produce an accelerated response?

This is thanks to what is known as immunological memory. This is the ability of the body’s immune system to quickly recognise an antigen that it has previously encountered and initiate an immune response. (Dr Ramesh)

For how long is a vaccinated person immune to Covid-19?

Presently, we do not have sufficient data to know how long good immunity persists after taking both doses of the Covid vaccine.

Researchers plan to give booster dose after the second jab to maintain good antibodies against the coronavirus. Boosters are given specially in older and immunocompromised patients with diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. (Dr Sanjay, respiratory medicine specialist, Zulekha Hospital)

The human body’s response differs from one person to another. We noticed different amounts of antibodies to Covid-19 virus among vaccinated or infected people. The period of protection is still not confirmed, although some studies show an eight-month protection. (Dr Rasha)

Will the booster shots be given periodically?

We cannot say this at the moment as the research to curb the coronavirus is still under way. Some of them are immune to the virus while others are vulnerable. In the near future, scientists may develop a vaccine that will provide complete immunity to the disease. (Dr Bobomurod)

Most of the vaccines remain highly effective for at least 6 months after the second shot. So a booster is likely to be required in 6 months to start with, and will likely become a yearly thing later, like the flu vaccine. (Dr Jyoti)

Is the booster shot harmful?

Vaccines given for protection from Covid-19 have been proven safe throughout the world. So there is no harm in getting booster dose. (Dr Sanjay)

Boosters are safe. They enhance the effect of the given vaccines, increasing your immunity to the virus. (Dr Bobomurod).

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