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 19 May 2021
Your questions about the booster vaccine, answered.
At the beginning of May 2021, the UAE has administered over 11 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 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 has been recommended by health authorities.
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.
On Tuesday May 18, officials from NCEMA announced that the Sinopharm booster dose will be prioritised for senior citizens and people with chronic diseases.
Which Covid-19 booster dose is available in the UAE?
For now, third doses of the Sinopharm vaccine are available for people with chronic illnesses and the elderly.
Spokeswoman Dr. Farida Al Hosani said that the third booster dose of the Sinopharm vaccine will eventually be made available to all UAE residents and citizens who received the second dose of the vaccine more than six months ago.
What about the people who who took Pfizer, Moderna, etc.?
American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech SE, the entities behind the jointly developed Pfizer vaccine, are still 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.