Flu shot more important than ever due to pandemic

Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 10 October 2020: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), annual seasonal flu awareness drive, which began on 28th September, will last until the end of January 2021.

This year’s campaign is of particular importance as it coincides with Covid-19 pandemic and enhances the relevance of getting vaccinated against seasonal flu to curb its complications.

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of getting vaccinated against seasonal flu and introduce health workers to the best international practices to prevent the risks of the influenza virus, as well as to avail sufficient amounts of vaccines in health centres and increase immunisation coverage rate, said official news agency Wam.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), recommendations, influenza vaccination targets a number of high-risk groups, including elderly people, children aged 6 months–5 years, pregnant women, people with underlying chronic diseases, and health care personnel.

Dr. Hussein Abdel Rahman Al Rand, Undersecretary of the Ministry’s Health Assistant Sector, Health Centres, and Clinics, said, “MoHAP is keen to organise this annual campaign as part of its commitment to developing health system, strengthening surveillance mechanisms for infectious diseases, providing influenza vaccination for all target groups, developing health personnel skills, and taking the preventive measures to reduce the prevalence of this disease to decrease its health and financial burdens.”

Al Rand underlined that the campaign activities will take place amid strict preventive and precautionary measures, highlighting the importance of influenza vaccination to alleviate the burden on the health sector and give it more time to further focus on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Containment of health risks a national priority

“MoHAP fully realises the importance of health security and the containment of health risks as a national priority, through the concerted efforts and sustainable cooperation between health authorities. This comes in line with MoHAP’s strategy to provide comprehensive and integrated health services in innovative and sustainable ways to prevent diseases in society,” he added.

Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of MoHAP’s Preventive Medicine Department, said, “A press conference will be held in the presence of the country’s health authorities to announce the launch of the campaign alongside a promotional campaign on various media platforms to raise awareness of community members about influenza and how to safeguard yourself and your family from it.”

Al Marzouqi added that the campaign will also feature special activities for health personnel, including lectures and training courses on the new methods of preventing influenza risks.

“The coincidence of seasonal influenza with COVID-19 poses a major challenge to health personnel and it also entails a further commitment to implementing preventive measures in society to prevent both viruses,” she noted.

Flu might lead to death in some cases

Dr. Laila Al Jassmi, Head of the Immunisation Section in the Preventive Medicine Department, said, “Seasonal influenza is an acute viral respiratory infection that is easily transmitted between the people of all ages. The infection varies from mild to severe and it might lead to death in some cases.”

“Over the course of 60 years, health systems worldwide have been using influenza vaccine with high success rates in reducing complications and hospitalisation, thanks to its safety and effectiveness,” Al Jassmi noted.

She pointed out that vaccine is being updated annually to provide the protection from viruses that cause the disease, calling the individuals to visit health centers with the roll-out of the campaign to get vaccinated while adopting proper preventive measures to curb its spread.



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