Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Abu Dhabi offers flu vaccine home visits in push for widespread immunisation

New service comes in the wake of a study that showed one in 10 parents did not see vaccinations as effective for their children

A new home flu vaccination service is being promoted in Abu Dhabi. Getty Images
A new home flu vaccination service is being promoted in Abu Dhabi. Getty Images

Emiratis and residents in Abu Dhabi can receive flu vaccinations at home this season, as part of a robust campaign to encourage widespread immunisation.

The emirate’s Department of Health, public health centre and ambulatory health services has been promoting the new Home Flu Vaccination service on social media and is encouraging families and friends to be vaccinated in groups.

“We are pleased to announce the new home flu vaccination service for you and your family’s comfort,” the advertisement read.

“Stop the spread. Gather a group of family and friends and contact us to book an appointment.”

The vaccine is free but the department charges a flat Dh500 administration fee, regardless of the number of people receiving the inoculation.

More than 300,000 different types of vaccines have been administered since January, including the flu vaccine, at healthcare centres managed by Seha, the emirate’s public hospital operator.

The seasonal flu vaccine is free for both Emiratis and residents at any of the emirate’s 38 government primary health care centres and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Plans to organise vaccination drives at schools are also under discussion.

“Everyone is vulnerable to seasonal flu and while most people recover from it within a few days, some groups are more likely to have life-threatening complications, including children, the elderly [and] patients who suffer from chronic illness,” said Dr Ahmed Abbas, a pulmonologist at Seha.

“We recommend that you take the vaccine, which is the best way to prevent seasonal influenza, annually and before the onset of infection.”

The push for vaccinations comes months after research suggested one in 10 parents in the UAE were against inoculating their children.

The study, carried out by a top government-run hospital in Al Ain, surveyed almost 400 parents across the country last year and found that 10 per cent did not agree that vaccines were effective in preventing certain diseases.

Dr Hossam Al Tatari, director of pediatrics at Heart Medical Centre, and the author of the study along with four other staff from Tawam Hospital, said those who resisted taking vaccines did so because of a "lack of knowledge."

He warned that influenza was a serious disease that needed correct management to be contained.

"Influenza … only came to the attention of the people in the UAE recently because before 2008 there was almost no influenza in the region. However since the swine flu, it is here and affecting lots of people," he said.

"This is why the government is fighting it in the proper way, which is through vaccinations.

"Some people also can not differentiate between the common cold and the seasonal influenza which is serious and deadly."

Dr Al Tatari praised the home initiative, saying it would ensure widespread vaccinations.

"If the government takes a decision towards vaccines then it has been very seriously studied and, to increase the uptake of the vaccine, they have taken an additional step and are now visiting homes to provide the vaccine," he said.

Speaking from the Abu Dhabi Ambulatory Healthcare International Congress, Dr Omar Al Jabri, chief medical officer at Ambulatory Healthcare Services, said the purpose of the vaccination drive was to get ahead of any diseases.

“We focus a lot on prevention, among other things, but mainly we do not want to wait for patients to get sick to treat them.

“We would like each resident to visit a primary healthcare centre and have a family doctor check that their vaccinations are up to date and for the family doctor to be the point of contact between the patient and the hospital,” he said.

To make an appointment for a flu vaccination at home, call 027117117.

Updated: October 19, 2019 04:56 PM

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