India-Dubai travel: Pregnant women, new mums long to reunite with families in UAE


Photo (for illustrative purposes): Alamy
Photo (for illustrative purposes): Alamy

Dubai - Uncertainty about return flight plans looms large, as many have yet to receive the Covid-19 jab.

By Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

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Published: Mon 21 Jun 2021, 3:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Jun 2021, 4:47 PM

The easing of travel restrictions on passengers from India has been welcomed widely by UAE residents, who were unable to return to their base in the Emirates for weeks, following the suspension of incoming flights from these countries in April.

However, a cross-section of people is unsure if they will be allowed to travel or return anytime soon. This includes pregnant and lactating mothers, who haven’t taken the vaccine yet.

Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has said that returning passengers must be fully vaccinated in order to board a flight from India.


>> India-Dubai travel: Frontliners keen to return home to the UAE amid new Covid safety rules

Prachi Shah, mum to a five-month-old baby, is disheartened and awaiting further clarifications.

“I came to India in November for my delivery. I planned to fly back in May before my UAE visa expired, but flights were suspended from April 24 onwards. I am not vaccinated, and I worry when I will be able to return to my husband in the UAE," said Shah.

"I’m more comfortable taking Pfizer-BioNTech, as the company has done clinical trials on lactating mums. But we don’t have that vaccine available in India, which leaves me with little choice. I hope the UAE government makes an exception for new mums and pregnant women. We want to return to our homes and families soon,” she added.

The UAE had started its mass Covid vaccination drive in December. However, pregnant women and lactating mothers were discouraged from taking the shots following a global advisory from the World Health Organization (WHO), which expressed reservations on this front.

It wasn’t until March this year, when Pfizer-BioNTech published the results of clinical trials done on 90,000 women who were either pregnant or were breastfeeding, that governments around the world changed their stance and started encouraging Covid-19 vaccination for this category too. The UAE started inoculating pregnant and lactating mothers in April, but many have yet to receive the jab.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Nithya Nelson, who works as a nurse in the UAE, said, “I came to India with my one-month-old baby on April 5. Until then, there was no advisory on vaccination for lactating mothers. I was hoping to spend a few days in India with my family before flying back with my baby and resuming work in May. But as things stand, I’ve been unable to do so and I’m unsure of my travel plans."

Many others have expressed similar dilemmas. “I’m a mother of a 14-month-old, and I'm not vaccinated. I prefer to take Pfizer-BioNTech because I have read about clinical trials done on lactating mothers, but it is not available in India,” said Ananya Seth, an IT professional.

“I’m not sure what to do at this moment," she continued. "Should I stop breastfeed for my daughter and take whatever jab is available so that I can return to my work in the UAE? Or should I wait for the dust to settle down and see if there is any clarity on this issue?”

Aparna K had flown to India with her husband and baby to see her ailing father, who passed away in March due to Covid-related complications. Like many other mothers, she is unable to return to the UAE because she is not vaccinated.

“I flew to India in March with my nine-month-old child. My husband took the Covid-19 jab before we came to India, but I decided to give it some time and take it once I wean my son off breast milk. I’m exploring my options, as I have to return to my work in the UAE without any further delay,” she said.

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