Ministry of Health launches National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign 2021

ABU DHABI, Under the theme "Protecting yourself... protects your community", the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has announced the launch of the National Seasonal Flu Awareness Campaign which runs until the end of December 2021.

The campaign is being organised in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC), the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), and the Emirates Health Services (EHS).

The campaign aims to raise community awareness and enhance prevention to reduce complication rates, encourage individuals to get the seasonal flu vaccine, and enhance the capabilities of health workers and train them on the best international practices.

This came during a press conference held at Dubai, in the presence of Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Public Health Sector, Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Executive Director of the Communicable Diseases Department at ADPHC, and Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of MoHAP's Preventive Medicine Department, Dr. Shamsa Lootah, Director of Public Health Services Department at EHS.

Also present were Dr. Laila Al Jasmi, Head of the Immunisation Department, MoHAP, and Dr. Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion and Education Section at DHA's Public Health Protection Department, as well as representatives from the ADPHC, SEHA, DHA, and EHS.

The target groups of the campaign include most of the community members, with priority being given to pregnant women, those aged 50 and older, patients with chronic diseases, children aged under 5, and healthcare workers.

The communication campaign includes social media platforms, newspapers and websites, television and radio interviews, and visual materials to be published via satellite channels and news websites.

"The annual seasonal flu awareness campaign is one of the most important events MoHAP is keen to organise in order to develop the health system’s response to respiratory diseases, strengthen surveillance mechanisms, and improve the results of the strategic indicator of the vaccination coverage rate in accordance with international standards," Al Rand said.

Recognising the importance of health security and risk prevention and containment as a national priority, the ministry of health provides vaccines at all its health facilities.

Al Rand underlined that the ministry is bound by the implementation of the precautionary and preventive measures at all health facilities throughout the campaign, describing the seasonal flu vaccine as necessary to mitigate the burdens on the health sector and give it the time to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

He mentioned that the UAE's success in the management and governance of the pandemic represents a cornerstone in its efforts to immunise society from infectious diseases thanks to the integration of health authorities' performance and the work under a national health system.

The campaign aims to raise community awareness about seasonal influenza and ways to prevent it and provide the vaccine as widely as possible to achieve universal coverage, pointing to the readiness of health facilities to welcome those wishing to get the vaccine with the implementation of the precautionary and preventive measures.

The campaign is also meant to raise the level of vaccination coverage among health workers and enhance their efficiency with the latest international recommendations and scientific methods, through lectures, workshops, and training on the most important new methods of preventing seasonal influenza and avoiding its risks.

This year's seasonal flu is coinciding with the coronavirus, something which poses great challenges for health staff and requires more community commitment to applying the necessary preventive measures to prevent the spread of the two viruses.

Over the past 60 years, the seasonal flu vaccine has proven to be safe and effective, reduce hospital length of stay and complications and protect from common viruses.

Therefore, authorities recommend taking the seasonal influenza vaccine for health workers in the healthcare sector, especially in the first line of defence, in emergency departments, outpatient clinics, primary healthcare centres, and intensive care units, to reduce the chances of transmitting the disease to patients and family members.

Dr. Lootah noted that the health authorities have adopted a well-thought-out plan to deal with seasonal influenza by raising the readiness of hospitals and health centers to handle all cases efficiently.

Although the campaign coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts have been intensified, expanded, and diversified to reach the wider community in order to help them differentiate between symptoms of seasonal influenza and coronavirus.

The campaign also highlights the disease complications and risks, in addition to the importance of taking all the necessary precautions and getting vaccinated to reduce the spread of seasonal flu.

She urged community members to take the vaccine and follow proper preventive practices to reduce the spread of seasonal influenza.

For her part, Dr. Al Awadhi outlined the ongoing efforts being made by the Dubai Health Authority to maintain and protect the health, security and safety of society against various diseases, including seasonal flu, lauding the cooperation by all concerned authorities to achieve the national goals of this campaign, which has remarkably been successful over the past years.

Dr. Al Awadi stressed the importance and safety of the influenza vaccine and its effective role in reducing flu symptoms and its negative complications, especially for those at risk of contracting influenza complications, such as children under the age of 5, people over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases such as asthma and heart, kidney, liver disease as well as those with diabetes, and health workers.

Source: Emirates News Agency

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