Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Thousands of Abu Dhabi healthcare workers to receive flu jabs

Abu Dhabi Health Services has rolled out a compulsory vaccination programme in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus

Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, a specialist in children's infectious diseases at Seha and chief medical officer at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, said it was crucial to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated against the flu. Pawan Singh / The National
Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, a specialist in children's infectious diseases at Seha and chief medical officer at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, said it was crucial to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated against the flu. Pawan Singh / The National

Thousands of Abu Dhabi government healthcare workers are to receive mandatory flu jabs as part of a major drive to limit the spread of the virus.

Abu Dhabi Health Services (Seha), the body which owns and operates all public hospitals and clinics in the emirate, said all 18,000 of its employees are to be vaccinated against the contagious disease.

The compulsory programme is to start immediately, with health chiefs also planning to provide vaccinations for a further 5,000 people, such as subcontractors, who work within Seha premises.

On the sidelines of the International Conference on Prevention and Control of Infection, in Abu Dhabi, a leading doctor said the free programme has been under discussion for a number of years.

“We have been pushing for this programme for three years and this is the first year for it to implemented across Seha. The vaccine is available for free for everyone. It is important that everyone be vaccinated,” said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, a specialist in children's infectious diseases at Seha and chief medical officer at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

More than 300,000 Abu Dhabi residents have been vaccinated against the flu so far this year.

Despite efforts to reach as many people as possible, including the launch of a home vaccination service by the Department of Health, medics still face opposition to the vaccination process.

“Some people are still reluctant because unfortunately there is a lobby on the internet against all vaccines," said Dr Al Kaabi.

"Some think it is a conspiracy, which also false because studies have shown worldwide that the vaccine is the most effective prevention method.

"Many still get mixed up between the common cold and the influenza while others believe that it (the vaccination) weakens their immunity while the truth of the matter is that it makes our immunity stronger. It does not weaken the immune system in any way.

"All children under five who are not vaccinated are susceptible to complications if they catch the flu as are all pregnant women and all those with chronic diseases and those with a weakened immunity.

"We have also noticed that obese people develop more complications from the flu than the average person so they too have to take the vaccine.”

Dr Gareth Goodier, Seha's group chief executive, saidthere are other simple measures people can take to guard against infection.

“Simple good hand hygiene practice and immunization can help reduce the spread of infections, protecting not only our patients, but also ourselves, our families and those around us. Breakthrough innovations are also contributing to the prevention and control of infections.”

Updated: October 31, 2019 05:36 PM

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