Dubai unveils new vaccine standards

New process monitoring vaccines

A new immunization policy should improve vaccination standards in Dubai.

A 2009 study of vaccinations at Dubai clinics found pretty grim results: 28% of clinics were not following the national immunization schedule and a shocking 64% were not reporting adverse events. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) resolved to improve standards.

Yesterday it unveiled an immunization policy designed to unify and monitor standards across the Emirate.

Laila Al Jassmi, the DHA’s CEO of Health Policy and Strategy, said the new policy was part of the 2011-2013 Dubai Health Strategy (which also includes the proposed mandatory insurance law). She explained how it would improve standards at both public and private health facilities:

To monitor the process of administering vaccines across the private and public health sector in Dubai, the Public Health and Safety Department and the DHA Health Regulation Department have jointly developed criteria for provision of vaccination services.  Accordingly private clinics will be licensed as Vaccine Qualified Clinics (VQCs) and their functions will be monitored by the DHA Health Regulation Department.

Al JAssmi said most private clinics already meet the criteria for becoming a VQC. However, even once licensed they will undergo regular inspections to ensure standards are maintained. A new system for tracking immunizations will also be implemented so the DHA can better measure the level of immunization cover.

The new policy will also benefit expats by improving vaccination standards at the private clinics they’re most likely to use. Many Dubai Clinics have already developed extensive vaccination schedules on their own, offering “optional vaccines” for diseases like influenza, typhoid, hepatitis A and human papillomavirus (also known as HPV). The new policy will leave those options on the table.

Dr. Aizeldin Ibrahim, Acting Director of Public Health & Safety, explained:

Every country develops a national immunization schedule keeping in mind the disease burden of the country and the UAE is no different. The UAE national immunization schedule was developed to suit the disease burden in UAE, however, if parents wish to give their children additional vaccines which are not in the schedule, they may choose to do so.