Stock Flu vaccine
Flu vaccines will now be available for administration at Abu Dhabi pharmacies. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has authorised a number of pharmacies to offer flu vaccines to residents.

By allowing pharmacies to administer the vaccine, the emirate’s healthcare regulator, the Department of Health (DoH) is continuing its efforts to increase the accessibility to preventive healthcare services in order to maintain health and safety standards, and prevent the spread of viruses, the authority said in a statement.

DoH also urged residents to get their flu shots as one of the most effective means to prevent influenza infections, especially amid the easy access to vaccines offered by authorised pharmacies.

Which pharmacies offer the shots?

As of now, the Al Manara Pharmacy in Yas Mall, Al Thiqa Al Almyiah Pharmacy on Zayed the First Street, Al Thiqa Al Dowaliah Pharmacy branches on Zayed the First Street and Sultan bin Zayed Street (Al Muroor Road), and various branches of Al Ain Pharmacy, are offering the shots.

All individuals over the age of 18 are eligible for the influenza vaccine, which is free for certain groups, including Thiqa health insurance holders, health care professionals at high risk of infection, and pregnant women, elderly people over the age of 50 years old, and Haj and Umrah pilgrims.

“At DoH, our motto has always been prevention is better than cure – therefore, we encourage all community members to focus on leading a healthy lifestyle complemented with preventive measures to avoid illness. Reiterating Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading destination for healthcare, DoH is committed to equipping the healthcare sector at large with all the means to provide individuals with a seamless and convenient healthcare experience in the emirate,” said Hind Mubarak Al Zaabi, executive director healthcare facilities sector at the DoH.

“The seasonal flu vaccine has been proven to be effective to prevent influenza with a high success rate. In partnership with strategic partners Abu Dhabi Public Health Center takes proactive measures to reduce the spread of influenza infections in the community, by implementing awareness and educational campaigns to raise the level of awareness of the public and health workers about the disease and the importance of vaccination. The centre also has an electronic system to track influenza cases in the community. DoH adaptation of a group of pharmacies to provide influenza vaccination service will extend the administration of the vaccine on a wider range,” added Dr Farida Al Hosani, executive director of infectious diseases at the DoH.

As part of its efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, DoH began to administer vaccines and offer PCR testing at pharmacies last July to ensure the availability and accessibility of healthcare solutions to all community members. The authority is calling on the public to take the seasonal influenza vaccine ahead of the onset of the winter season, starting this month.

Seasonal influenza is a disease caused by influenza viruses, which mainly affect the respiratory system, specifically the nose and the pharynx. The symptoms range from mild to severe, where a majority of patients diagnosed with influenza require between a few days and up to two weeks to recover from infection. Those affected may develop exacerbated inflammation of the lungs, ear, sinuses, or general deterioration of the health. The flu may also cause severe complications in young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with chronic illnesses or weak immunity.

Vaccination is considered the most effective method of seasonal flu prevention. It protects against common viruses that cause the influenza and is updated annually to ensure immunity. About 70,000 influenza vaccines were distributed in September and October 2022 in Abu Dhabi.