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The common flu season has started. For illustrative purpose. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The annual seasonal flu awareness drive will begin on September 28, the Ministry of Health and Prevention announced on Thursday.

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of getting vaccinated against seasonal flu, and introduce health workers to the best international practices to prevent the risks of the influenza virus. It also urges health centers to have sufficient stocks of the vaccine available in order to increase immunisation coverage rate.

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In its statement, the MoHAP stressed that this year’s campaign is of particular importance as it coincides with COVID-19 pandemic. Getting vaccinated against seasonal flu will help curb complications. According to World Health Organisation recommendations, the flu vaccine targets a number of high-risk groups, including the elderly, children aged six months to five years, pregnant women, people with underlying chronic diseases, and health care personnel.

Universal health coverage

“The MoHAP is keen to organise this annual campaign as part of its commitment to developing health systems, strengthening surveillance mechanisms for infectious diseases, and providing the flu vaccine for all target groups to decrease health and financial burdens,” said Dr. Hussein Abdel Rahman Al-Rand, undersecretary of the MoHAP’s Health Assistant Sector, Health Centres and Clinics. Al-Rand underlined that all campaign activities will take place amid strict COVID-19 preventive and precautionary measures.

Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of MoHAP’s Preventive Medicine Department, said the campaign will feature special activities for health personnel, including lectures and training courses on the new methods of preventing flu risks. “The coincidence of seasonal influenza with COVID-19 poses a major challenge to health personnel and it entails a further commitment to implementing preventive measures in society to prevent both viruses,” she added.

“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,” said Dr. Laila Al-Jassmi, head of immunisation at the MoHAP’s Preventive Medicine Department. “Over the course of 60 years, health systems worldwide have been using the flu vaccine with high success rates in reducing complications and hospitalization, thanks to its safety and effectiveness,” Dr Al-Jassmi said.