How UAE became world’s most vaccinated country

Saman Haziq

The UAE’s vaccination rate has clocked 70 per cent, but residents have been asked to continue practising social distancing, as new revelations emerged that the Delta variant could spread like chickenpox.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the Delta variant of Covid can be as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness. The CDC’s figures also show that Covid vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death in vaccinated people, the report said, citing experts.

While globally, nearly 8 in 10 people are yet to get the first Covid-19 vaccine dose, in the UAE it is quite the opposite with 8 out of 10 already either fully or partially vaccinated.

And while a high number of deaths globally have been reported mostly among the unvaccinated, the good news is that Covid vaccine skepticism is on the decline in 2021, according to a study published by Reuters. While some say they are taking the shots to help ease travel and other movement procedures, others say the spread of deadly Delta variant and encouragement and awareness by the UAE government inspired them to take the jab.

Indian expatriate Anam Khan, who took her first dose of Pfizer vaccine in the second week of July, said: “I was unsure initially about getting vaccinated as I had heard about the side-effects of Covid vaccines. But I am glad I am living in the UAE where the government ensures they give nothing but the best to its people. So, the constant reminders by the government and the lesser number of complications among those who took the Covid vaccine, encouraged me to take the jab. And I glad I took it as the process is easy, convenient and I have peace of mind when I step out for work,” Khan said.

Seema Ansari was another one hesitant to take the shot. “I had told my husband that I will never take the vaccine, but I changed my mind when I saw how well the UAE managed the pandemic even as the whole world was going in lockdowns. The government kept reminding us to get vaccinated to stay safe and keep Covid numbers low, and ultimately get rid of the virus.

“When I saw the Rulers of the country and the doctors lead by example and get vaccinated, I was convinced that there was nothing to worry. My trust in the country’s leadership and the exemplary way in which the UAE handled the pandemic, helped dispel my doubts about taking the vaccine.”

The rapid rollout of vaccines and leading the world in testing is also testimony of UAE’s success in containing the spread. More vaccinations has played a significant role in limiting fatalities and hospitalisations due to Covid complications.

High vaccination rate

Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director of RAK Hospital, said although initially people were hesitant about taking the Covid-19 vaccine, this perception changed as they saw most Covid deaths and complications were among the unvaccinated population.

“The government’s effective measures, easy availability of a number of vaccines, constant push and education, has helped the country to achieve the distinction of becoming the most vaccinated country in the world. Setting up of field hospitals, extensive screening and testing, provision of booster doses and rolling-out of vaccines for children, also boosted confidence.”

Calling the UAE the safest country to live in, Dr Siddiqui said: “No other country in the world has been able to achieve so much without compromising on its economy or disrupting people’s day-to-day lives. The UAE has shown how one nation can stay open for business, remain welcoming, and yet keep infection numbers low and vaccination rates high.

“Our death rate is also among one of the lowest in the world, thanks to the meticulous planning and swift action taken by the authorities.”

Dr Ajith Kumar, consultant neurologist and regional medical director of NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, Dubai, said: “Vaccinating over 70 per cent of the UAE’s population was made possible by the farsightedness and wisdom of the government of UAE in rapidly formulating and efficiently implementing a strategy for vaccinating citizens and residents. The benevolence of the UAE government in offering the best vaccines free of cost to all as well as the educational campaign have had a very positive impact on vaccination rates. In addition, the efforts of thousands of medical personnel and volunteers who have been working tirelessly and ceaselessly to successfully implement the vaccination programme has also contributed immensely. In this unprecedented and difficult time we are indeed fortunate to be living in such a progressive nation as the UAE.”

Echoing the sentiments, Bidhan Chowdhury, founder and group CEO of Medi Q Healthcare Group, added: “Trust in the government and its continuous and transparent communication on Covid-19; timely approval for various vaccines; their free-of-cost and adequate availability at countrywide network of health centres; close monitoring of standards; and a sense of social responsibility among the populace are some of the reasons why the UAE today is the most-vaccinated nation in the world. Other nations can learn a lot from the UAE’s vaccination drive.”

Original article in The Khaleej Times