Doctors in the United Arab Emirates have urged residents to get their COVID-19 booster jab after the first case of the Omicron variant was discovered in the country.
Speaking to Al Arabiya English, Dr Azeem Abdul Salam Mohamad, a specialist in Internal Medicine at Bareen International Hospital at MBZ City, said: “COVID-19 booster shots raise the antibody levels and offer both longer term protection and stronger immune response against COVID-19 variants.
“Emergence of new variants like B .1.1.529 or Omicron reiterates the importance of booster shots to maintain immunity.”
It is recommended that all individuals above the age of 18 years should take booster shot after 6 months of second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the doctor said.
“Studies have shown that protection against COVID-19 from mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna may last longer after the booster dose than after original two shot regimen.”
“The importance of booster shots become significant in view of the finding that there were no serious cases caused by variants among vaccinated people.”
The UAE’s Ministry of Health detected on Wednesday the first case of the Omicron variant in the country, state news agency WAM reported.
The new variant was identified in an African woman who traveled from an African country and transited through an Arab country. She had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The health authorities isolated her, and she is being monitored. People who were in contact with her were also isolated.
The UAE is the second Gulf country to detect a case of Omicron infection after Saudi Arabia announced its first case earlier this week/.
The WHO had declared that Omicron, which was detected last month in South Africa, was a variant of concern.
The UAE has announced on November 26 suspending the entry of travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique, as a precautionary measure against the spread of Omicron.
However, Emirati citizens will be allowed to enter the UAE coming from those countries given that they present a negative COVID-19 tests obtained within 48 hours of departure, take a PCR test upon arrival in the airport and quarantine for 10 days.
The UAE has reported in November that 100 percent of the population has received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 90.3 percent have been fully vaccinated.
The Gulf country also made COVID-19 vaccine booster shots available for everyone over the age of 18 amid rising concerns over Omicron.
UAE health sector spokesperson Farida al-Hosani urged all residents to get their booster vaccine.
“The ministry has made the booster shot available for all categories of people over the age of 18 who have received two doses of the Pfizer-BionTech and Sputnik vaccine, given that six months have passed since they received the second dose,” she said.
“We advise everyone to take the booster dose as soon as possible, specifically the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Vaccination contributes to increasing immunity and preventing infection, severe symptoms and deaths, especially when dealing with variants,” she added.
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