The rise in seasonal flu influenza cases is usually seen in the end of October and early November.
Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever now amidst the Covid-19 pandemic as not only will it protect people from fighting respiratory diseases but will also reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the pandemic, said the spokeswoman for the UAE health sector.
Speaking at the launch of the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s (MoHAP) annual National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign 2020, Dr Farida Al Hosani, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases at the Abu Dhabi Centre for Public Health, said: “Though the flu vaccine will not protect you from getting infected with Covid-19, it can help boost your immunity against respiratory diseases that can weaken your lungs and make you more vulnerable to the virus. Therefore, we call on all members of the community to take the flu vaccine as soon as possible in order to prevent the spread of the infection among community members as the body needs up to two weeks to obtain immunity against the disease. It is free of charge and given to people aged six months and above.”
MoHap on Monday, kicked off its annual National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign 2020 earlier than usual in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic introducing a new four-strain (quadrivalent influenza flu) vaccine designed to protect against an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus and two additional strains of influenza B virus. These four are the most common flu strains in the community, Dr Farida said through a virtual video call from Abu Dhabi.
She added that the four-month campaign that is usually launched in October was launched well in advance keeping in mind the “extraordinary circumstances” faced by the world owing to the pandemic. “The rise in seasonal flu influenza cases is usually seen in the end of October and early November which is why we have launched the campaign now because the body will take at least two weeks to develop immunity against it.”
Covid-19 vaccine volunteers give a gap
Dr Farida added that those who have participated and taken their Covid-19 vaccine jabs need to ensure that they give a gap of “at least two or three weeks before they take the influenza vaccine”.
Showing optimism about the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, she said: “Hopefully, we will be able to start the use of the covid-19 vaccine widely either by end of this year or early next year based on the results of the trials.
The seasonal influenza vaccine will be provided free of charge for all Emiratis and high-risk residents such as those suffering from chronic diseases, children under five years of age, pregnant women, elderly and health workers.
The four-month campaign which will last until the end of January 2021 was announced on Monday at the InterContinental Dubai – Festival City, in the presence of Dr Hussein Abdul Rahman Al-Rand, Undersecretary of the Ministry’s Health Assistant Sector, Health Centers, and Clinics; Dr Anwar Sallam, Chief Medical Officer at Seha; Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of Preventive Medicine Dept; Dr Farida Al Hosani; and Dr Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion and Education Section, DHA.
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