In an effort to minimize the impact of the flu virus this winter, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is providing free flu shots to vulnerable individuals. After a significant number of flu infections during the Australian winter, which often serves as an indicator for flu season patterns elsewhere, health authorities in the UAE are taking proactive measures to safeguard the young, elderly, and infirm.
The number of flu cases is expected to rise from the end of the month until March. The latest flu vaccine is now available at hospitals, primary health centers, clinics, and pharmacies across the country. Australia had reported almost 200,000 cases of flu by mid-August, with children experiencing complications at higher rates compared to previous years.
To respond to the increased number of infections in the Southern Hemisphere, health authorities have heightened protective measures in the UAE. Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Executive Director of Infectious Diseases at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, stated that they closely monitor the global situation and focus on the experience of the Southern Hemisphere during their summer to better prepare for the UAE’s winter season.
The seasonal flu is highly contagious and primarily spreads through inhaling droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking. It can also transmit through contact with contaminated surfaces, followed by touching the face. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, headaches, fatigue, and in children, vomiting and diarrhea.
Considering the circulation of new variants of COVID-19, doctors stress that the precautions for flu and COVID-19 remain the same this winter. New arrivals in the UAE are encouraged to get a booster vaccine against COVID-19, and individuals with early symptoms of either flu or COVID-19 are advised to isolate.
The flu vaccination campaign in the UAE targets various sectors of society, with priority given to pregnant women, individuals over 50 years old, and those with chronic medical conditions. Children under five and healthcare workers are also among the priority groups. School campaigns are being conducted to promote flu vaccination among students.
To increase participation beyond vulnerable populations, individuals outside the priority group can opt for the flu vaccine at a cost of Dh50 ($13). Dr. Shamsa Lootah of Emirates Health Services urges the public to get vaccinated and take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. The Ministry of Education and schools are actively collaborating to implement vaccination plans and achieve coverage targets within educational institutions.
Overall, with the availability of free flu shots and a comprehensive vaccination campaign, the UAE aims to protect its population from the impact of the flu virus this winter.
– Dr Farida Al Hosani, executive director of infectious diseases at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre
– Dr Shamsa Lootah, Emirates Health Services