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UAE official urges early vaccinations for kids and elderly

In a proactive measure to protect public health, a leading official from the Infectious Disease Sector at Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre emphasized the importance of early influenza vaccinations for high-risk individuals, including pregnant women, individuals with medical conditions or chronic diseases, children, and the elderly.

Dr. Farida Al Hosani, the executive director of the Infectious Disease Sector at Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, spoke with Khaleej Times, stating, “We particularly prioritize high-risk groups susceptible to complications. Every year, we encourage and remind residents that this is the ideal time to receive the vaccine.”

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has initiated its annual national seasonal influenza awareness campaign under the slogan, ‘Protect Yourself… Protect Your Community.’ In partnership with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Emirates Health Services (EHS), the campaign’s objective is to enhance immunity against influenza and reduce the risk during the colder months. This campaign will be active from September 2023 through March 2024.

The primary aim of the campaign is to educate healthcare professionals about international best practices for preventing influenza, ensuring easy access to vaccines for target populations, and increasing vaccination rates.

During this season, the ministry strongly encourages residents to receive the quadrivalent influenza vaccine. Dr. Al Hosani explained, “There are four different strains of influenza, and we provide it throughout the year. Cases typically start to rise from October until March, and it is advisable to get vaccinated at the beginning of the season. The peak of influenza cases is usually recorded during December and January.”

The influenza vaccine, commonly referred to as the flu shot, serves as a preventive measure against the seasonal flu virus. Dr. Shamsa Lootah, director of the Public Health Services Department at Emirates Health Services, stated, “The vaccine is available in healthcare facilities and primary health centers across the country. EHS has approximately 134 facilities offering vaccines in Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, and Fujairah.”

For specific groups, the vaccine is provided free of charge, while for others, it is available for Dh 50. Dr. Lootah noted, “Pregnant women, children below 5 years of age, and individuals with chronic diseases can receive the vaccine free of cost.”

The public is encouraged to get vaccinated and adhere to precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus, thereby safeguarding their own health and that of the wider community, while also avoiding potential complications from influenza infections.

MoHAP’s campaign emphasizes the following key points:

  1. Early Vaccination: Residents are urged to receive their influenza shots as early as possible, preferably before the peak of the flu season in December and January.
  2. High-Risk Groups: Priority will be given to high-risk groups, including the elderly, pregnant women, young children, and individuals with underlying health conditions, as they are more susceptible to severe complications from influenza.

To ensure widespread awareness, the campaign will be promoted through various channels such as social media, newspapers, websites, television, and radio. Additionally, visual awareness content will be disseminated through television channels and news websites to reinforce the campaign’s message.

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