Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Dr Badreya Al Harmi from DHA and Dr Nada Hassan Al Marzouqi reveal details of the flu campaign during a press conference in Dubai. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: With the changing seasons, the influenza virus is in the air and the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has launched a nationwide campaign to spread awareness on combating the dreaded flu.

On Wednesday, ministry health officials called on people to take the flu vaccination, to minimise the complications of infection and reduce its spread.

The National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign, which will run until the end of December, targets all members of the community, especially groups that are at higher risk to exposure and health care professionals in the country.

Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for Health Centres and Clinics at MoHAP, said the complications that result from seasonal influenza can be dangerous and in some cases deadly, which is why the campaign stresses on the importance of taking the vaccine.

“Seasonal influenza poses a challenge to health systems around the world and causes about 3-5 million annual cases of severe illness, leading to a health and economic problems,” said Dr Rand. “This requires action to strengthen studies and control infection in all medical facilities and raise awareness of preventive measures among community members.”

Yearly vaccine

Dr Rand said it is advised to take the vaccination every year. It will be available for free to citizens and people with chronic illnesses who have been admitted to hospitals.

The shots are available at MoHAP’s 76 primary health care centres and private health institutions, according to Dr Nada Marzouki, Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine at MoHAP.

“Taking the vaccine is one of the most effective medical interventions for preventing seasonal flu,” she said. “The campaign focuses specifically on pregnant women who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, the elderly and children under five. These groups are more susceptible to complications from the flu virus.”

She added that while the vaccine doesn’t protect one from getting the flu, it prevents more than 80 per cent of severe complications the flu can cause.

“We recommend that seasonal influenza vaccine be taken by health care workers, especially in emergency departments, outpatient clinics, primary health care centres and intensive care units, to reduce the chances of transmitting the disease to visitors and family members,” she added.

The National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign is being organised in collaboration with the Department of Health — Abu Dhabi (DOH) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

What is seasonal influenza?

An acute viral infection that spreads easily from person to person and can affect anyone in any age group. Infection ranges from mild to severe illnesses, and in rare cases death.

Who needs the flu vaccination?

Health care professionals and people in the high risk group, which include pregnant women, patients with chronic diseases, the elderly and children under age five.

Where is the vaccination available?

The shots are available at MoHAP’s 76 primary health care centres and private health institutions.

What does it cost?

Approximately Dh50.