As an expat, with our family, home and cat and dog in the UK and Peter, my husband, working in Dubai, I am in the fortunate position to have a home in both countries and the ability to travel freely when I choose, so we can be there for our family, we don't miss births and weddings and I get the best of both worlds in regards to escaping the oppressive heat of Dubai in the Summer and the cold and short, dark days of winter in the UK.
However 2020 put a huge spanner in the works for our lifestyle, seeing me return to the UK in March for Dubai to close the borders on me until June, separating Peter and I. Due to uncertainty and permission needed for travel we decided to wait till August before travelling and Peter flew to the UK and isolated for 2 weeks on arrival followed by a week of social distanced visits with the family. By the time I flew into Dubai the following week I needed to have PCR tests before I was allowed to fly.
I came out to Dubai on November 30th and return to the UK on January 26th. Peter had to travel to Saudi after I arrived for work for a week, but ended up spending Christmas over there in a hotel after Saudi closed its borders due to the new strain of covid that has come out of the UK.
Due to the uncertainty of the virus as it mutates and new strains are discovered and with the requirements for travel I investigated my options for the covid vaccine whilst I was in Dubai should it become mandatory for future travel. The Covid 19 app a mandatory download which contains my latest covid status and permission to return to Dubai as well as latest test date, vaccination card and ever changing up to date info.
Currently Dubai are offering over 60's, front line workers, people of determination and those with underlying health conditions the Pfizer vaccine, free of charge. There's a number to ring 800342 or you can register on the website to book an appointment. There are 6 facilities in Dubai.
Abu Dhabi are offering all UAE residents the Chinese Vaccine, Sinopharm. I was able to book on the SEHA app or I could just turn up to Dubai Parks and Resorts and hope a slot is available on arrival.
The Sinopharm Vaccination is the only vaccine available to me at the moment, it could be April before I can have the Pfizer one in Dubai and probably the end of 2021 to have it in the UK. My theory is if the ship is sinking to get in the first life boat that comes along and for me, it's the Chinese Vaccine.
There are a couple of things you need to know before having this vaccine, it has less than 90% effectiveness, however it's not proven yet if any of the vaccines will prevent you catching and spreading the virus and there is always the possibility that all the vaccines become yearly like the flu or 5 yearly like the pneumonia vaccine I had recently also.
- If you've had a live vaccination for flu or pneumonia, you are required to wait 30 days before having a covid vaccine.
- If you've had a baby within 6 months, pregnant or are planning to get pregnant within 3 months then you cannot have the vaccine either and all women under 50 are required to have a pregnancy test before the vaccine is administered. I have no idea if this happens with the other vaccines or in other countries.
- The process from arrival to vaccination and being able to leave took 3 hours, around 2 hours of that was spent in the car waiting to go in, but once it was your turn the process was straight forward.
- You show your ID on arrival then depending if you're a walk in or have an appointment you're sent one of two ways.
- You are given a ticket number, visit the counter, ID card checked and forms handed to you, along with sticky labels with your details on and then you are directed to one of three field tents.
- You are seen by a nurse, blood pressure and oxygen levels taken, height and weight recorded, wait for urine results if required and are then seen by a Doctor who takes a medical history from you, you sign a consent form and permission for the vaccine to be administered is given
- You are then required to wait for 15 mins before blood pressure and oxygen levels are taken again and then you can go home.
- A text message is sent with the date and time of your second appointment, 2nd doses are given in a different walk in/drive through area.
- I also received a text message with a phone number I could call for advice if I had any concerns about the injection or have a reaction.
So far so good, didn't feel the needle go in and no swelling or tenderness at injection site.
A couple of tips for you if you choose this route.
- You will be a minimum of 3 hours
- You will spend 2 of these hours in your vehicle
- You will not be allowed to get out of your car and there is little if no information available to you until it is your turn to go in
- You may or may not know when it is your turn to go in, it will depend if you've been paying attention to where the cars come from, other people being told to get back in their cars or not by security
- There are toilets but no food or drink available (water is provided once you are in the field hospital)
- Be prepared to be seen by the Nurse and the Doctor with at least one other person who is waiting for the vaccine also, you will be asked for your medical history in front of another patient, unless you request not to
- Wear your mask at all times, hand sanitiser is available at numerous places
- People will tell you that you can get the vaccine done privately for a small fee, without a queue, that is not the case over here, ask them where, how much and when? It is usually the Covid PCR test they are referring to