Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Official Spokesperson of the UAE Health Sector, stated that vaccinating the majority of the population is a critical factor in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing the importance of booster shots in reinforcing the public's immunity to the virus.

During the UAE Government media briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the national efforts across all federal and local sectors continue to provide a safe and preventive environment for all community members, and authorities are working, through specialist teams and qualified cadres, to ensure public safety.

"These efforts have ensured the country's readiness since the start of the pandemic, and all federal and local authorities have performed their roles in implementing procedures and strategies in record time and across all sectors, in terms of early response, monitoring, treatment, follow-up, clinical trials and research studies in pharmaceutical innovation," she added.

She also affirmed that the health sector is continuing its efforts to achieve collective immunity by administering vaccines to eligible categories, noting that 100 percent of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine, while 90.31 percent are fully vaccinated.

Al Hosani also announced that these figures suggest that most of the target segments are vaccinated, with specific categories like residents and holders of new work visas being constantly monitored to ensure that they receive the vaccination according to the country's adopted medical procedures.

She added that a large percentage of children and students remains unvaccinated, but are in the process of being vaccinated. At the same time, a minimal number are unvaccinated for medical reasons, stressing that achieving high vaccination rates does not mean the end of the vaccination drive, and the importance of receiving booster shots to reinforce immunity.

The community's proactive efforts to receive the vaccine and booster shots are evidence of the public's confidence in the UAE's health sector, she said.

"The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) has announced that people aged over 18 who have taken their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sputnik V vaccines over six months ago should take the booster shot," Dr. Al Hosani stressed.

"We urge everyone to take the booster shot on time and without delay, especially elderly people and those with chronic diseases," she added, noting that the media and several international organisations have described the spread of the new variant, known as "Omicron", which was announced on 26th November, as "alarming".

The first case of the variant was reported in South Africa on 12th November, 2021. Other cases have been confirmed in other countries, she added, stating that, based on available preliminary data, "the World Health Organisation reported that there are major genetic mutations that may affect the characteristics of the virus and the speed of its spread, taking it beyond that of previous mutations".

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE's leadership has adopted a proactive strategy to ensure public safety, noting that all competent national authorities have been working together, with plans being constantly updated to support national efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

She also highlighted the importance of adhering to relevant preventive measures, such as wearing face masks, sanitisation and physical distancing.


© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2021.