COVID-19 Omicron variant: UAE urges residents to get vaccine booster shots

UAE reported its first case of the Omicron strain on Wednesday

  
Dubai expands its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, as DHA Dubai starts offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 12-15 year-olds. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Image for illustrative purposes. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai expands its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, as DHA Dubai starts offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 12-15 year-olds. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Image for illustrative purposes. Image used for illustrative purpose.

UAE - With the UAE detecting its first case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, the country’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has reiterated the importance of vaccination.

It stressed the need for residents to get the vaccine booster shot, which will “ensure immunity and protection” from Covid-related fatalities and severity “especially in light of the emergence of new variants”.

The ministry confirmed that the African woman, who became the first Omicron case in the UAE, was fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The new variant, first reported to the World Health Organisation by South Africa, has quickly spread across continents, prompting travel restrictions and border closures.

The UAE recently announced the availability of booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Sputnik vaccines for all residents aged 18 and over. These boosters will be offered to those who have been vaccinated with Sinopharm as well.

Residents can take the additional jab six months after their second dose.

Health officials in the UAE had earlier highlighted how booster shots improve immunity after vaccine effectiveness against Covid-19 infections decreases over time.

“Studies have shown that taking the booster shot increases the body’s immunity,” a government spokesperson had said earlier. “In light of the spread of variants and because most countries are facing new outbreaks, people are encouraged to take the booster shot of the vaccine to increase immunity.”

Top American infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci also highlighted the need to get a booster for the “best possible protection”.

“Our experience with variants such as the Delta variant is that even though the vaccine isn’t specifically targeted to the Delta variant, when you get a high enough level of an immune response, you get spillover protection,” he said.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE’s health sector, stressed the three basic things people should follow to stay safe: Wear face masks, sanitise hands and respect social distancing.

Citing World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Farida had said that recent genetic mutations may be more transmissible than previously reported variants. However, this is based on a preliminary report and would need further research, she added.

She assured residents that the competent authorities are following up on all on information related to new Covid strains and will announce precautionary measures accordingly.

The UAE is the most vaccinated country in the world, with 100 per cent residents having received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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