Health officials also highlight that the number of flu cases and other communicable diseases has significantly risen in the country this year
Residents in the UAE can now take the Covid-19 and influenza vaccines on the same day, according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s (MoHAP). The authority stated that the earlier gap of two weeks is no longer required per the new regulations.
This announcement on Monday (September 26) came as a part of MoHAP’s official launch of the National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign under the theme “Protect yourself...Protect your community”.
Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, said, “People can take both Covid and the flu on the same day now. That’s what the latest studies and investigation suggest. This is as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation.”
Health officials also explain that the Covid vaccine was previously granted an emergency use authorisation and has since been closely evaluated, prompting the removal of the two-week gap.
Flu cases on a significant rise this year
Meanwhile, authorities highlighted that the number of flu cases and other communicable diseases has significantly risen in the country this year as compared to the last two years.
”The number of Covid cases has been a lot more in the previous few years as compared to the influenza cases. But this year, we’ve noticed that influenza cases are on a (dramatic) rise this year as life goes back to normal (post-Covid),” says Dr Shamsa Lootah, Director of Public Health Services Department.
Dr Nada Al Marzouqi emphasised 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 hospitalisation, lessens illness complications, and protects against widespread infections.
She says, “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.”
The national campaign also aims to train health personnel on the best international practices to prevent the influenza virus and its risk and provide adequate vaccines to inoculate the target groups, and raise the vaccination coverage rate.
Dr Hind Al-Awadhi opines, “The annual flu awareness campaign and other similar campaigns showcase the distinctive model of collaboration among all health authorities in confronting diseases and immunising 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.”
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.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, the official spokeswoman for the UAE’s health sector, highlights that the centre has established an electronic system for reporting a few infectious diseases, including influenza. “All adults, even infants aged six 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.