People can get their flu shots at primary health centers from September 28 as the annual seasonal flu awareness drive is rolled out, said Dr. Laila Al Jassmi, the head of the Immunisation Section at the Preventive Medicine Department at the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap).
The drive assumes more importance this year as it comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This enhances the relevance of getting vaccinated against seasonal flu to curb its complications, the ministry said.
The campaign, which will last until the end of January 2021, also aims to 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 centers and increase immunization coverage rate.
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. Al Jassmi 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 hospitalization, thanks to its safety and effectiveness."
She pointed out that vaccine is being updated annually to provide the protection from viruses that cause the disease.
Dr. Hussein Abdel Rahman Al Rand, the undersecretary of the Ministry's Health Assistant Sector, Health Centres, and Clinics, said: "Mohap is keen to organize 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."
Dr. 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.
"Mohap fully realizes 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: "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.