Nationwide vaccination drive starts to fight influenza
October 15 2018 08:21 PM
The officials at the press conference to announce the launch of flu vaccination
The officials at the press conference to announce the launch of flu vaccination PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil

Qatar has launched a national vaccination campaign to counter influenza (flu) and a dedicated website to provide the details of the campaign.

The vaccination campaign started on Monday for the public and will last until the end of the flu season.
Members of the public can get the flu vaccine for free at public health centres across the country as well as at selected private clinics throughout the campaign organised jointly by The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Community members can find all the information about the vaccine – including myths and facts – as well as where they can get the vaccine on the website –, launched for the first time. Thousands of staff across Qatar’s health system have already received this year’s flu vaccine. 
The vaccine is available at all the 26 health centres under PHCC as well as 45 private healthcare facilities including corporate health centres. 
“This year’s vaccine is different from last year and all the viruses are covered in the new vaccine. Two new components have been added this year and it is very safe and suitable for every age. We recommend everyone to get the flu shot and keep themselves safe from influenza,” said Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, HMC’s deputy chief medical officer and head of infectious diseases.
Dr al-Khal was speaking at a press conference on Monday to announce the launch of the campaign which was also attended by Dr Soha Albayat, head of the Vaccination Section at MoPH and Dr Khalid Hamid Elawad, subject matter expert - Public Health, Clinical Affairs at PHCC.
“Flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes, even death. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk for the flu and its complications. This includes the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions,” explained Dr al-Khal.
Dr Albayat noted that the influenza vaccination during pregnancy is safe. 
“The theme of the influenza vaccine campaign this year is Fight Flu. Studies show that, in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect babies from flu infection for their first several months of life. To make the influenza vaccine easily accessible to everyone this year, the vaccine is available across all PHCC’s primary health centres and for the first time will have 45 private and semi-governmental health facilities including Qatar Petroleum and Sidra Medicine providing the vaccine,” maintained Dr Albayat. 
“Influenza typically resolves in 3-7 days in the majority of individuals. In a proportion of patients – pregnant women, individuals with pre-existing chronic illnesses (e.g. diabetes, asthma, chronic lung diseases) the very young and elderly – influenza may be associated with more severe illness or complications, these complications include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial or viral infections and exacerbation of underlying illnesses,” advised Dr Elawad.
The annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best and safest way to reduce the chances of catching flu and potentially spreading it. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently.

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