Studies suggest a third dose could be used to boost one's immunity against Coronavirus, months after the first and second shots
1 March 2021| Last updated on 25 March 2021
Your questions about the booster vaccine, answered.
At the end of February 2021, the UAE has administered over 6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, thanks to the nationwide immunisation drive.
We know that most Coronavirus vaccines come in two doses, both of which must be taken separately with at least 21-30 days in between. Recently, you might have heard of a third jab, also known as the 'booster shot'.
What is the Covid-19 booster dose?
The Covid-19 booster dose is a potential 'next step' in the global race to vaccinate the world's population against the virus.
Studies show that the protection from the first and second shot is likely to weaken over time. According to Dr. Nawal Al Kaabi, Chairwoman of the National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee, coronavirus immunity such as the protection provided by China's Sinopharm vaccine, lasts for only four to six months.
A third vaccine dose has been considered by researchers to sustain protection, administered as boosters to previously immunised people.
It could also help safeguard people from emerging variants, as some of the existing vaccines are not as effective against them.
Should I get the booster dose in the UAE?
It's not the first time a vaccine may require a booster shot. Many long-established vaccines, such as the ones against Hepatitis A, also need booster doses to ensure the immune response persists.
To help safeguard you from Covid-19 in the future, a booster dose might be needed.
In fact, as of March 2021, a small number of people in the UAE who have previously taken the Sinopharm vaccine, have also received a third Covid-19 vaccine booster shot to improve one's immune response against the virus.
Which Covid-19 booster dose is available in the UAE?
In the UAE, a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine is available for those who have less immunity against diseases, people with chronic illnesses, and people who belong in the high-risk group, said UAE doctors.
Sinopharm-vaccinated residents and Emiratis who did not develop antibodies against Covid-19 could also take the third jab. So if you developed a weaker immune response to the virus, it's recommended that you receive the booster vaccine.
The modified third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is expected to boost your antibodies and lead to a better immune response against existing variants of Coronavirus as well.
What about residents who took Pfizer, Moderna, etc.?
American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech SE, the entities behind the jointly developed Pfizer vaccine, have begun testing a third vaccine dose.
Tests are being carried out to develop a booster shot that will strengthen one's immune response against the virus after the two doses wane, and protect the individual against new Covid variants. The third dose is the same as the first two Pfizer vaccine shots.
Other vaccine companies such as Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna have also kickstarted research and are reformulating existing shots to cope with new variants.
It's quite similar to how patients may receive an annual flu shot.
"Every year, you need to go to get your flu vaccine," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told NBC News.
He added: "It's going to be the same with Covid. In a year, you will have to go and get your annual shot for Covid to be protected."
Should I be concerned about any health risks?
While the data on Covid-19 booster doses is limited so far, experts and researchers suggest that health risks from three Covid-19 vaccine jabs is unlikely.
Childhood vaccines are also administered in several doses to protect them from diseases such as polio, diphtheria and tetanus. These are given when they are eight weeks old, 12 weeks old, 16 weeks old, around three years old, and the last shot when they are aged 14.