How the UAE got the vaccination drive right, and for free

Many residents have taken a third booster dose. Some have even taken a fourth. All this has been for free as the government opened its coffers for the sake of public health

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Published: Tue 9 Aug 2022, 10:19 PM

What’s commendable about the UAE’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is that treatment for the disease and vaccination have been free. For over two years, the government managed to keep the situation under control despite seasonal spikes in cases.

Thanks to the early and smooth rollout of the vaccination campaign, people are moving on with their lives, recovering what has been lost. The first wave was followed by the deadlier Delta and the current, milder Omicron wave.

The Covid situation in the country can now be described as endemic, though there may be different interpretations as to what endemicity means. To make it simple: the disease has been contained and the spread has been restricted in the UAE either through vaccination or infection.

Perhaps the UAE could be among a few countries in which the disease is now only ‘seasonal’. There is a better understanding of the disease and there’s no panic. Daily deaths are almost nil.

There’s a sense of comfort, but authorities are not complacent and have asked residents to mask up and continue to take adequate preventive measures. The face covering is still required to be worn but is not enforced.

Personal responsibility is key and the government is letting residents think and act for themselves when it comes to anti-Covid measures. What’s important to note here is that the vaccination drive that was launched as early as December 2020 was the reason that daily cases never crossed 6,000.

And the UAE has taken longer to reach the 1 million mark, the last among countries with populations this size.

The headstart in getting jabs to the arms of people was the turning point in the UAE's Covid fight. Coverage is now more than 100 per cent, and the country has become a global vaccination leader, a position it holds after 24 months.

Health officials realized that zero-Covid was impossible, and the best containment and prevention measure was to vaccinate the entire population without delay using the jabs available. First, it was the Chinese Sinopharm; AstraZeneca’s vaccine was then rolled out, followed by the Pfizer shot that has been the mainstay of the drive that continues without a hitch.

Many residents have taken a booster dose. Some have even taken a fourth. All this has been for free as the government opened its coffers for the sake of public health. The vaccination drive now targets children and youth. It has been a carefully monitored and calibrated response to the health crisis and the UAE is in an enviable position as far as containment, prevention, and treatment of the disease go. Things can only get better from here. Here's to better health and the end of the pandemic.

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