Abu Dhabi: Residents in the emirate of Abu Dhabi have been urged to get their annual flu vaccines, which is now available free of charge at public hospitals and clinics.

In a statement sent today (November 6), the Abu Dhabi Department of Health’s Public Health Centre stressed that the vaccine helps prevent flu-related complication, which are most likely to occur in children aged less than five years, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions and reduced immunity.

“We urge people from the age of six months and above to take seasonal influenza vaccine. It is important to take the shot as soon as possible, as the body needs up to two weeks to develop immunity. Statistics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi showed that the highest number of cases occurred in November, and incidence remained high until April,” said Farida Al Hosani, manager of communicable diseases at the Public Health Centre.

The statement also called upon residents to undertake certain precautions when unwell, including covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and regular handwashing.

About 350,000 residents received the vaccine during the previous flu season.