Covid-19: Frontline workers tackle vaccine hesitancy, steer UAE to 100% milestone

People were mostly apprehensive over the side-effects of taking the jab, expert says


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sat 27 Nov 2021, 8:43 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Nov 2021, 8:58 PM

Tackling Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy and rumours about adverse side-effects were the major challenges faced in the initial stages of the national vaccination programme, which was also filed with memories that will last a lifetime, said the UAE’s frontline workers as they cheer the 100 per cent eligible population receiving a single dose.

Dr Sandeep Pargi, pulmonology specialist in respiratory medicine, Aster Hospital, Mankhool, said that some people were apprehensive about side-effects of taking a jab.

“In many cases, people were concerned about their preexisting health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, etc. Their misgivings were how it affected their preexisting conditions. Other doubts were related to rumours that the jab is ineffective and will cause side effects in the long run. But after counselling and seeing the results and effectiveness of vaccines, everyone started to get the jabs.”

Dr Naresh Lal, specialist, family medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, noted that up to 10 per cent people coming for Pfizer vaccination were hesitant because of the reported side effects on social media platforms.

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“Mostly the people who are taking vaccines shall endure low-grade fever, body aches and pain at the site of the injection. A very small subset of people suffers from mild swelling in armpit that mostly subsides within a few days.”

Inigo Shalini, a registered nurse, Burjeel Hospital, Dubai, has several memorable experiences to share about a long, arduous but blissful experience.

“During the peak of the pandemic, I have seen many patients struggling for breath and fighting for their life. There had been occasions when we used to pray for the patient as we could not do anything more. Fortunately, the scientific community could develop a vaccine, and the UAE was one of the first countries to roll out the massive vaccination campaign.”

Shalini vividly remembers an Emirati family who had brought their ill mother to get the shot.

“I cannot forget her face. She was in her seventies. She couldn’t move her hands or say anything. Her children had taken a great effort to bring her to the hospital. We gave her the shot and kept her for a longer time in the observation room to see for side effects. The family was overwhelmed to see their mother was protected against the deadly virus.”

Shalini pointed out the crucial task of giving jabs to people of determination.

“A child was reluctant to get the shot. We had to wait for some time and make him calm. The father cried after his child got the vaccine.”

Akshaya Asok Sabu, registered nurse, vaccination programme at NMC Specialty Hospital in Al Ain, said the health workers had to create awareness among the vaccine hesitant general public.

“We supported them psychologically and emotionally by educating them with the latest information about safety and the overall importance of taking the jab since the whole world is suffering from the pandemic.”

Dr Amaka Kate Uzu, consultant, family medicine at Bareen International Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said that that initial vaccine hesitancy has given way to curiosity over the frequency of booster doses.

“Now, I find residents are more curious to know what’s next after completing the full course of the vaccine. With the ongoing booster schedule, residents are asking will this become like the flu vaccine? Some residents remain curious about the long-term need for taking the booster shots.”

Frontline workers are proud of the fact that the UAE has scaled the 100-per cent milestone and they have played a part in the achievement.

Meagan Marfe Lodonia, nurse in-charge, RAK Hospital Vaccination Centre, said: “I cannot help but feel proud to be able to serve the people and our community and do my job in the frontline. I am hopeful to see the beautiful smiles on every face and for everyone to be able to travel without any fear. I want to say thank you to the government for their all-out support and the people in the UAE for their cooperation in our goal to end this pandemic. This ensures that soon we will be able to go back to our normal lives. Together we can overcome this pandemic.”

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