Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Flu jab now available across UAE

The injection is free for those most at risk but some hospitals charge other patients per shot

Health experts in UAE urge residents to consider getting vaccine as it is the best method of prevention against flu virus. Eric Gaillard / Reuters
Health experts in UAE urge residents to consider getting vaccine as it is the best method of prevention against flu virus. Eric Gaillard / Reuters

Families across the country are being urged to get a flu jab ahead of winter.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said the shot will be available until March.

The virus thrives in schools and offices and its spread is helped by the prevalence of air conditioning.

The injection is free for those deemed most at risk including pregnant women, elderly and those with a history of illness.

For those not at risk, hospitals charge about Dh250 - though it varies between hospitals and emirates.

Alia pictured with her youngest brother Ayaan. Courtesy Ali family
Alia Niyaz Ali passed away in November 2018 from complications arising from severe flu. Courtesy: Ali family

“Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases are the most vulnerable to complications," said Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, director of the ministry’s preventive medicine department.

It is not recommended for people with a severe allergy to eggs.

Children as young as six months old are eligible for the flu jab, and Dr Al Marzouqi highlighted the importance of getting it annually.

"For children under nine years of age, they need another dose. The interval between the two doses should be four weeks or more," she said.

In 2018, a Dubai school pupil died at the age of 17, two days after contracting flu-type symptoms. Alia Niyaz Ali, a grade-12 pupil at Indian High School, passed away after complications associated with the virus.

At that time, a Rashid Hospital spokesperson issued a statement saying it was a tragic, "but isolated incident".

Speaking to The National earlier, Dr Yusr Jaafir, a family doctor at Medeor 24x7 International Hospital in Al Ain, said studies have shown influenza is greatly affected by temperature change.

Air conditioned environments and sudden changes in temperature can contribute to the high number of patients seeking treatment for cold and flu.

As such, doctors have warned against suddenly moving from cool environments to the heat outside, and vice-versa.

Regular maintenance of air conditioning units can also help to prevent the spread of virus.

Updated: October 3, 2019 10:07 AM

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