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Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists

Visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and passport holders eligible for tourist visas when they arrive in the UAE through Abu Dhabi can book free vaccines, according to information provided by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), which operates the emirate's public health infrastructure.

June 22, 2021 / 02:43 PM IST
Representative image (Image: AP)

Representative image (Image: AP)


Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is offering tourists free COVID-19 vaccinations that were previously restricted to UAE citizens and residency visa holders.

There is no indication that the change applies to Dubai, the most populous emirate, or the other five emirates that make up the UAE.

Visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and passport holders eligible for tourist visas when they arrive in the UAE through Abu Dhabi can book free vaccines, according to information provided by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), which operates the emirate's public health infrastructure.

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Holders of expired residency or entry visas are also eligible for free vaccinations, Abu Dhabi Media Office said on June 11.

Job losses and travel restrictions during the pandemic mean some people's residency visas have expired or have been cancelled when they were made redundant.

UAE Health authorities said this month nearly 85 percent of the eligible population had received at least one vaccine dose, but did not say how many had had two doses.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Infections have risen in the UAE in the past month, and Abu Dhabi still has restrictions on entry, including home quarantine and PCR testing at intervals after arrival. People driving from other emirates are tested to show they are not infected.

Travellers from 27 countries including China, Germany and the United States can enter without quarantine on arrival.

SEHA offers COVID-19 vaccines by China's state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and by Pfizer/BioNTech in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai Media Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether eligibility criteria was to change. Dubai Health Authority information says vaccines are given only to citizens and holders of valid Dubai residency visas.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
Reuters
first published: Jun 22, 2021 02:43 pm

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