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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

UAE well stocked for flu jabs as doctors say they face worst winter for virus in years

Reports of shortages in the UK are unlikely to be seen in the UAE

 Doctors are encouraging the young and old to get vaccinated against the flu virus. Joe Raedle / Getty Images
 Doctors are encouraging the young and old to get vaccinated against the flu virus. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Flu vaccines are unlikely to run out in the UAE despite concerns elsewhere clinics may struggle to keep up with demand.

Doctors have said 2018 could be one of the worst winters for the virus in recent years.

Shortages of flu vaccines tailored to suit older people have been reported in the UK, and there have already been two deaths in the UAE linked to viral complications associated with flu-type symptoms.

In a UK survey of 650 family doctors by GP magazine Pulse, almost 70 per cent said they were experiencing difficulties in accessing supplies of the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, a booster suitable for older people.

A further 25 per cent of doctors suffered a shortage of the quadrivalent vaccine (QIV) recommended for patients in the 18-64 age group.

Just 20 per cent told the survey they had no problems with adequate supplies to help keep the virus at bay this winter.

Although figures for recorded flu cases and vaccination uptake in the UAE were not available, doctors managing family clinics in Abu Dhabi said supplies are unlikely to run out.

Family doctors at Burjeel Day Surgery Centre have reported a busy flu season so far, with more than 700 recorded cases and have administered almost 1,000 vaccines.

Health authorities are encouraging high risk groups such as the elderly, young or those with pre-existing health conditions to get vaccinated early through their GP.

Following the deaths of Dubai schoolgirls Ameena Sharaf, 9, who passed away at Al Jalila Children’s Hospital in October and Alia Niyaz Ali, 17, at Rashid Hospital, doctors issued a statement to ease concerns among parents about the risk of viral infections.

Alia died after fluids built up in her lungs and heart two weeks after she contracted the flu. Courtesy Ali Family
Alia died after fluids built up in her lungs and heart two weeks after she contracted the flu. Courtesy Ali Family

“A young female patient who had been treated earlier in a private healthcare facility arrived to the emergency department in Rashid Hospital on Tuesday, November 13 in an advanced shock state,” a Rashid Hospital spokesman said.

“Emergency management care including appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic measures were instituted immediately. However, her condition deteriorated rapidly during her stay in the emergency department and unfortunately she succumbed to death within a few hours of her arrival to the hospital.

“Rashid Hospital extends their deepest condolences to her family, school and the community.

“This announcement is issued to the public to ease concerns over the risk of an outbreak of any disease in relation to this isolated incident.”

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Read more:

Tributes paid as Dubai pupil, 17, dies after developing flu

Warning issued over rising threat of flu this winter

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The World Health Organisation hosts annual consultations with health scientists to evaluate the composition of viruses in the northern and southern hemispheres to ensure adequate vaccines are provided.

The flu season usually lasts for about six to eight months from September to April, with October peak season.