UAE approves Pfizer, Sputnik COVID-19 booster shots for over 60s, eases school rules

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Health officials in the United Arab Emirates have approved the emergency use of COVID-19 booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Russia’s Sputnik vaccine for approved groups.

During the UAE’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said booster shots should be give to individuals six months after receiving their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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The groups that should take the booster shot are senior citizens and residents over the age of 60, people with chronic diseases, or at risk of complications (aged 50-59), and people receiving long-term health care (aged 18 and above).

“We emphasize that the booster is given as an additional dose that is given after receiving the first two vaccine doses. The booster should help improve immunity after vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections decreases over time,” NCEMA tweeted.

This announcement does not apply to the groups who have received Pfizer-BioNTech or Sputnik booster doses after being fully vaccinated with Sinopharm, NCEMA said.

NCEMA said it would also be continuing to phase out some existing rules and regulations to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the UAE continues to lead the world in global vaccination rates.

“We underline the need for social cohesion at this stage to maintain all the gains achieved. The phased removal of restrictions we’re witnessing requires us to share social responsibility to ensure public safety, contain the pandemic & move towards a brighter future."

"UAE has reinforced its leading position - both regionally & globally- since the outbreak of the virus. UAE now ranks among the first countries in globally in addressing the pandemic, thanks to the concerted efforts made by all sectors to ensure sustainable recovery."

Laboratory workers bag a biological sample at a drive-through COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in al-Khawaneej district of the gulf emirate of Dubai, UAE. (File photo: AFP)
Laboratory workers bag a biological sample at a drive-through COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in al-Khawaneej district of the gulf emirate of Dubai, UAE. (File photo: AFP)

On Tuesday, the UAE announced that it had recorded 176 new COVID-19 cases and one virus-related death in the previous 24 hours.

The latest figures represent a continued downward trend of new COVID-19 cases in the Gulf country.

A total of 2,104 people have died from the virus in the UAE since the beginning of the pandemic, with a total of 737,073 people having been infected.
Meanwhile, 258 people also recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 730,093.

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee has approved the blue schools initiative, which supports all Abu Dhabi schools to relax measures and return to normal operations based on vaccination rates.

To be implemented from term 2 of the current academic year, the blue schools initiative “recognizes vaccination as the key path to recovery, re-emphasizes transparency, and enhances the learning and social experience of students,” the committee announced.

Schools will be tiered based on student vaccination rates. Higher vaccinated schools will be able to gradually relax measures, including reduced social distancing requirements, relaxed mask-wearing protocols, increased classroom and school transport capacity, and a return to extra-curricular activities, in-school events and field trips.

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The four tiers are: ‘orange’ for schools with less than 50 per cent of students vaccinated; ‘yellow’ for schools with 50-64 percent of students vaccinated; ‘green’ for schools with 65-84 percent of students vaccinated; and ‘blue’ for schools with 85 percent and above students vaccinated.

Free vaccines are available for children at various vaccination centers across Abu Dhabi, including the dedicated children’s vaccination center at ADNEC. Pfizer-BioNTech is available for children aged 12 and over, and Sinopharm is available for children aged three and over.

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