The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has officially launched the National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign under the theme "Protect yourself...Protect your community”.
Launched in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Center for Public Health, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Emirates Health Services during a press conference held today in Dubai, the campaign will run until next December.
The annual drive aims to promote community awareness of the need to get vaccinated against seasonal flu, enhance disease prevention, reduce flu complications, and motivate community members to receive vaccines. It also aims to improve the performance of health workers and educate them on best global practices.
Present at the press conference were HE Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, Dr. Badreya Al Shehhi, Head of the Immunization Department at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center (ADPHC), Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of the Department of Public Health and Prevention, Dr. Shamsa Lootah, Director of Public Health Services Department at EHS, and Dr. Hind Al-Awadhi, Director of Health Promotion and Education in the Public Health Department of the Dubai Health Authority.
The campaign’s target audience includes the majority of the population, with priority given to pregnant women, people aged 50+, those with chronic diseases, and children under the age of 5, as well as health workers. Social media, newspapers, and websites will all be used to publicize the seasonal flu campaign, which will also feature TV and radio interviews. Additionally, films promoting awareness will be produced and aired on TV and news websites.
Comprehensive health coverage
Dr Hussain Al Rand stressed that the annual drive was launched in implementation of the National Policy on Vaccinations, which serves as a national framework for preventing and treating communicable diseases, such as seasonal influenza, and reducing their effects on society.
“We look forward to improving the national health system's response to respiratory infections and increasing surveillance systems in order to upgrade the outcomes of strategic indicators for vaccine coverage ratio according to international standards,” Al Rand said, adding that vaccines will be made available at various health facilities.
"The UAE has achieved remarkable success in the management and governance of the pandemic and other infectious and non-communicable diseases,” Al Rand noted. “We are moving forward with our national efforts to immunize the population against illnesses, and this objective will undoubtedly be accomplished owing to the cooperative effort among health authorities that operate within a united national health system," he further said.
Al Rand urged all community members to support national efforts, get vaccinated, and adopt healthy preventive behaviours to reduce the spread of seasonal influenza and enhance community members' preventative health.
Additionally, Dr. Farida Al Hosani said: "We are glad to be a permanent strategic partner in the seasonal influenza campaign, which is meant to boost public awareness of the need to take the annual flu shots."
"From providing the flu vaccines early before the season starts to launching awareness and education campaigns that enhance the awareness of the public and health sector employees about the disease and the significance of vaccination, the ADPHC is keen to take many proactive measures to reduce the spread of influenza infection. "
Al Hosani went on to say the centre has put in place an electronic system for reporting a few infectious diseases, including influenza. "All adults, even infants aged 6 months and older, are urged to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible since it can take the body up to two weeks to develop antibodies to the illness, Al Hosani added.
Vaccination efficacy over 60 years
Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi emphasized that the seasonal flu vaccination has proven to be safe and effective in preventing influenza infection with a high success rate over the last 60 years. It decreases the risk of hospitalization, lessens illness complications, and provides protection against widespread infections. Therefore, we advise everyone, including medical staff in hospitals, emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, primary health care institutions, and intensive care units, to get the seasonal flu vaccination. There is no doubt that vaccination will lower the risk of illness transmission to patients and family members.
Meanwhile, Dr. Shamsa Lootah said that the EHS has adopted an integrated plan to provide all preventive and curative services and that the flu vaccine is available for all categories at its facilities. She also stated that the EHS's hospitals and health centers are constantly ready to receive and treat patients.
Lootah advised all community members to get vaccinated and take preventative steps to restrict the spread of the disease, ensure safety, and promote the overall health of the community, adding that the vaccine will help minimize any consequences that may arise from influenza infection.
Dr. Hind Al-Awadhi said: “The annual flu awareness campaign and other similar campaigns showcase the distinctive model of collaboration among all health authorities in confronting diseases and immunizing the community. It also demonstrates the scale of the capabilities that the health sector possesses and its capacity to offer a safe and healthy environment," said Dr. Hind Al-Awadhi.
She emphasized that the Dubai Health Authority is keen to play its full part in this respect to help combat influenza and other infectious diseases, urging the entire community to respond and interact with the campaign, by taking the flu shot as a proactive step to protect themselves against influenza.”
Seasonal influenza (flu) is a highly contagious disease that spreads by inhaling droplets made by infected people when they cough, sneeze, or talk. The flu virus can also be caught by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Preventable measures that can be taken to reduce the spread of flu viruses include covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, regular hand washing with water and soap, and sanitation, as well as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs that cause flu.
Starting at the age of six months, all members of society can safely get the vaccination, with the body taking up to two weeks to develop immunity against the infection.