Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), along with Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), is encouraging parents to ensure their young ones are vaccinated against flu as influenza can cause serious complications, especially in those aged between six months and five years.
"The flu virus can cause serious complications even in healthy children,” said Dr Hamad Eid al-Romaihi, manager, Health Protection and Communicable Diseases at MoPH, according to a statement issued Sunday. “Being immunised reduces the risk of a child being hospitalised due to flu. It is strongly recommended that children aged between six months and five years are immunised against the flu every year.”
“The flu virus is common and easy to catch. It can spread through the air by coughing and sneezing as well as by hands, cups and other objects that have been in contact with an infected person's mouth or nose,” he explained.
Dr al-Romaihi added that each year’s flu vaccine is different and that it is very safe for children, explaining that the most common side effects are a mild fever, a sore arm and rash. “Every year, flu experts predict which viruses are going to be circulating and adjust which strains are included in the vaccine,” he said.
“Two new components have been added to this year’s vaccine and it is very safe and suitable for every age. Flu immunisation offers the best protection for all children as it strengthens their ability to fight the flu,” added Dr al-Romaihi.
Dr Khalid Hamid Elawad, Health Protection manager at PHCC, explained that the flu shot is especially important for children with long-term health conditions such as neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy), chronic lung disease (asthma), endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), and blood, kidney, liver and metabolic disorders, as well as for children with extreme obesity.
“This is because these children are more likely to develop complications from the flu, such as chest infections and other serious complication. If your child does have a long-term condition, make sure they have their flu immunisation every year before the winter starts,” stated Dr Elawad.
Children less than six months are not recommended to receive the flu shot - the most effective way to protect those too young to be vaccinated is by vaccinating mothers during pregnancy.
To ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated this year, members of the public will be able to obtain the influenza vaccine for free at all PHCC health centres across the country as well as at more than 35 private clinics.
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