Schools in the UAE are delighted after Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines were approved for children aged between 12 and 15.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention on Thursday stated that the approval was given after the country carried out successful clinical trials and assessments, which showed it to be 100 per cent effective for children in this age group.
Jonathan Bramley, Vice President–Communications, GEMS Education, said: “GEMS Education welcomes the latest developments regarding further vaccination opportunities for students. We see this as a positive step in our fight against coronavirus, and we will of course continue to support and follow the guidance and directives of the relevant UAE authorities and regulators.”
Sangita Chima, Amity School Dubai Principal, said: “We would be happy to facilitate a vaccination drive in our school conducted by MOHAP or DHA. KHDA supports all national well-being initiatives and has been leading from the front in this pandemic. We have no doubt that we will hear from them. Fair and equitable distribution of vaccines across students is an important priority that will enable students to engage confidently in face to face classes with vigour.
She adds, “It is a fresh new chapter for parents, educators and students to feel safe and confident. The safety shield of a vaccine will work wonders as schooling is an exhilarating learning experience once more. Vaccinating teenagers will positively change lives in our community, accelerate learning and unleash mental well-being. It will open a new transformative chapter to secure the long-term future of generation alpha.”
Lowering the vaccination age follows a series of steps that the UAE had taken to protect the youth. Just in January, it gave its nod to the use of the coronavirus vaccine for teenagers aged 16 and above. Previously, anyone aged under 18 was not allowed to take the jab.
Alison Baldwin, Manager of School Operations, GEMS Wellington Academy – Dubai Silicon Oasis says, “We have already supported over 50 students aged 16 and above through our vaccine programme. We were thrilled to offer our eligible students an opportunity to have a vaccine appointment through the school, and to support our families in making this positive step. So, whether at school level or national level, we are proud to play our part in the vaccination programme contributing to this worldwide effort.
Sharjah school heads await nod
Meanwhile, school principals in Sharjah also hailed lowering the age limit for vaccination and are encouraging eligible students to get the jab, so that the maximum number of students can opt for on-campus learning.
Arogya Reddy, Principal, Ambassador School Sharjah said, “We have not received any official communication about this from SPEA yet. Usually, SPEA coordinates with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and then the schools are further notified. As Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been administered only in Dubai so far, it does not apply to us immediately. However, the fact that the Sinopharm vaccine has been administered to children who are 16 and above, has definitely boosted the confidence levels of the parents in sending their wards to school. After the Eid break on Day 1 itself, we have observed that at least 100 more students have opted for hybrid learning which is a good sign. We hope with more pupils being inoculated these numbers will only rise by September.”
He adds, “But in the same vein I have to mention that I have also sensed worry among parents who are concerned about the third wave, as is being said in India which is likely to impact children this time. Therefore, if other vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech can be administered to younger children, then that will definitely give a further facelift to the education sector.”
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