National Seasonal Influenza Awareness Campaign begins - GulfToday

National Seasonal Influenza Awareness Campaign begins

Flu shot 1

Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) officials and their colleagues at the health authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai launched on Monday morning the September to January 2021 “National Seasonal Influenza Awareness Campaign.”

The annual campaign, part of the National Policy on Vaccinations, approved by the UAE Cabinet to mitigate health risks associated with communicable or infectious diseases, was announced a month earlier, in order to encourage more UAE residents and visitors go for the immunization for everyone’s protection from the acute viral infection common during the winter months.

From the “in-person-and-virtual” press conference at the Inter-Continental Hotel-Dubai Festival City, the officials said Emiratis, expatriate residents, children under five years old, the elderly, pregnant women and chronically ill, including health workers are entitled to the free quadrivalent flu jab, if taken from any of the public health facilities namely government hospitals, primary health centres and medical fitness centres.

Summarizing the free acquisition from all MoHaP, Abu Health Services Company (SEHA) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA), MoHaP-Preventive Medicine Department Director Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi also said that private hospitals and clinics across the country are charging a minimal fee of Dhs50.00 per shot from Sept. 28 (Monday).

The availability of the quadrivalent simple flu vaccine-one that works against four types of antigen, virus or microorganism-was mentioned by SEHA-Group Chief Medical & Clinical Affairs Officer Dr. Anwar Wagdy Salam and Dubai Health Authority (DHA)-Health Promotion and Education Department head Dr. Hend Al Awadhi.

Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre-Communicable Diseases Department director Dr. Farida Al Hosani explained the available quadrivalent simple flu vaccine are in response to the strains of H1N1, H3N2, and two Influenza B viruses seen and tracked in the UAE in the past year or so.

In his welcome remarks, MoHaP-Health Centres, Clinics and Public Health Sector assistant undersecretary Dr. Hussein Abdel Rahman Al Rand emphasized that the simple flu vaccine available in the UAE “is safe and effective with high success rates in curbing the complications of this disease and hospitalization throughout 60 years.”

He said: “Seasonal Influenza poses major challenges to health systems around the world and constitutes a health and economic burden. This virus causes about three to five million severe illnesses and some 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, especially in groups with high-risk factors such as children under the age of five years, the elderly, chronic disease patients and pregnant women.”

Al Rand stated that part of the 2020-2021 campaign is the continuing learning education of “health workers about the latest international recommendations and (heightened) community awareness.”

MoHaP, SEHA and DHA are determined in providing UAE residents and visitors with the comprehensive health coverage that includes mitigating and preventing cases of communicable and infectious conditions such as simple flu, a respiratory ailment, he also said.

On the Gulf Today enquiry on the extent of the awareness campaign as people tend to ignore, forget or neglect infomercials, reminders and announcements, Al Marzouqi said in place other than virtual training courses for health workers and virtual awareness lectures within communities are sufficient materials to be transmitted through and in all media platforms; with the hope of increasing the percentage of vaccine coverage compared to previous years.

SEHA’s Salam highlighted the necessity of the simple flu vaccine as he related it with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). He underscored that focused practice on the COVID-19 precautionary measures would definitely limit the community spread, medical visits and hospital confinements arising from simple influenza. Salam updated the press on how Abu Dhabi is pursuing its “A Healthier Abu Dhabi” vision by way of providing the flu vaccine to 202,394 residents in the capital including 22,394 of SEHA’s plantilla.

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