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Covid-19 vaccine in UAE: Blue-collar staff take shots in mass drives

Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Dubai - Companies are educating their blue-collar workforce about the importance of getting inoculated through awareness campaign.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Fri 15 Jan 2021, 9:46 PM

As the UAE marches ahead with plans to vaccinate 50 per cent of the country’s population, a number of private firms are organising campaigns to inoculate their blue collar workers to ensure an extra layer of protection for them since most of them share rooms with multiple people.

Calling it the safest and most effective way to limit the spread of Covid-19, companies are educating their blue-collar workforce about the importance of getting inoculated through awareness campaigns, posters and videos before giving them a choice and encouraging them to take the free jab. While many are running vaccination drives in their staff accommodations, others are taking their workers in small batches to the free vaccination centres across the UAE.

Facilities management services company EFS Facilities Services Group, which has over 2,000 blue collar workers across the UAE, started creating awareness among its workers since June 2020, when the Government of Abu Dhabi started the Phase III trials of the Covid vaccine. Till date, 2,000 employees of the company, including over 1,000 blue-collar workers, have taken their first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine. After educating the workers about the vaccine, the company gave them a choice to opt for the vaccination, which most of them took.

“Over 200 EFS staff including the Group CEO, Tariq Chauhan, volunteered to participate in the initial clinical trials of the vaccine after which the company kick-started a campaign by airing videos of Group CEO encouraging workers to take the vaccine. This was followed by posters, emails and frequent engagement between management, accommodation supervisors and blue collar workers explaining to them the benefits of taking the vaccine. And as our vaccination drives are under way, we aim to cover our entire workforce of over 4,000 employees, here in the UAE,” the company said in a statement.

The company is conducting free vaccination drive at its offices and staff accommodations in Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai on a weekly basis and is encouraging employees to bring in also their families to take the free vaccination.

Thanking the country for the immunisation drive, Chauhan said: “We would like to express our gratitude to the Rulers and government for the ease of these inoculation drives. EFS is proud to be associated with such a noble cause.”

Sharing her experience of taking the Covid vaccine, Sita Kumari, an office assistant at EFS, said: “It has been a week since I got inoculated and I don’t have any side effects. I feel perfectly fine and I am glad our company HR and CEO are constantly communicating with us and checking on our well-being.”

Conares, the second-largest private steel manufacturer in the UAE, which runs three steel mills operating 24X7 in Dubai, also started administering the Covid-19 vaccine to its employees on January 10, covering 420 blue-collar workers and 150 executives till date.

“An average 15 to 20 workers are provided the vaccines everyday based on the availability and schedule. Meanwhile, the executive staff are advised to get the vaccines done by themselves, vaccination of the blue-collar workers is expected to conclude by the end of January covering more people during the weekends,” said Bharat Bhatia, CEO of Conares, who added that workers were taken to vaccination centres in small batches to get the jab.

Another company that is conducting mass vaccinations for its workforce is Hotpack Global, manufacturer of disposable food packaging products. The company is conducting a mass vaccination drive at its headquarters at Dubai Investment Park and operational facilities across all emirates in the UAE in order to get its entire 1,576 employees inoculated against the deadly virus.

“A total of 1,326 non-executive staff including 622 labourers and 250 executives will be vaccinated over a period of three months starting from January. We expect to complete the initiative by March and hope to administer the second dose of the vaccine to all our employees by then. Around 200 blue collar workers in our factory in Umm Al Quwain received the vaccine in the first week of January,” said Abdul Jebbar PB, Managing Director of Hotpack.

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said on Friday that the total doses administered now stands at 1,665,987. This takes the rate of doses per 100 people to 16.84.

Encouraging people to get inoculated, officials from the health sector have been reiterating that vaccination is the easiest and quickest way to restore normalcy in the country.


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