Abu Dhabi: Doctors in the United Arab Emirates have renewed their call for residents to get their flu shots as this year’s flu season brings more severe cases of the disease across the world.
Flu shots, which are readily available in clinics and hospitals across the UAE, are the best way to protect against the flu, which can be dangerous for vulnerable members of the community.
Dr Mourad Kirollos, staff physician for primary care and family medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said there was also a need – in light of threats to respiratory health – to dispel myths and misconceptions around the flu vaccine.
“Our immune system has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the past couple of years. The flu may seem like an unimportant illness to many. However, it can quickly escalate into a life-threatening situation if left untreated. This annual epidemic affects between three and five million people worldwide,” said Dr Kirollos.
“While people may wonder if the flu vaccine is effective in any way, it’s important to understand that the most effective way to prevent disease is through vaccination,” he added.
Because flu virus strains change rapidly, the flu shot should be taken every year to provide optimal protection, including against complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections and sinus infections.
The United Arab Emirates launched its annual flu vaccination campaign in September, days after the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center (ADPHC) released data indicating the emirate’s flu infection rate was down. returned, as expected, to higher levels typical before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The flu is a highly contagious disease. A person can become infected with the flu by inhaling droplets from an infected person while coughing, sneezing or talking. The influenza virus can also be caught by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes,” the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center (ADPHC} said in the part of his public campaign to encourage flu vaccinations.
This year’s flu vaccine is a quadrilent vaccine, which means it protects against four different flu viruses, including influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2) and two influenza B viruses. Adults receive only one injection, while young children who have never had a flu shot before receive two injections.
Busting flu myths
Dr. Kirollos countered some of the common misconceptions about the flu virus.
Myth: Flu shots do not help fight flu infection.
Fact: Influenza vaccines provide approximately 70-90% protection against clinical disease in healthy adults. In the elderly, vaccination can reduce the number of hospitalizations by 25-39% and has also been shown to reduce overall mortality by 39-75% during flu seasons.
Myth: The flu is just a common cold and doesn’t need any attention.
Fact: Up to 650,000 people a year can die from the flu. Although it can have a serious impact on people with weakened immune systems, even healthy people are susceptible to it. Usually, recovery only takes a few weeks, but it can lead to complications such as pneumonia, heart or brain inflammation, or sinus infection.
Myth: If I wear a mask, I can’t catch the flu.
Fact: The use of face masks and regular disinfection are measures that only add an extra safety barrier. While it is important to continue following these measures, as they may offer you some protection against infection, it is still possible to catch the flu, as they are not preventative.
Myth: I took the COVID-19 vaccine, which will protect me against the flu.
Fact: Although both COVID-19 and influenza are contagious respiratory diseases, taking the coronavirus vaccine does not offer protection against influenza because influenza strains are totally different from COVID-19 strains.
Myth: It is not safe for pregnant women and children to get the flu shot.
Fact: Everyone over the age of three is advised to get a flu shot. In fact, it’s rather important to protect high-risk groups, including adults aged 50 and over, children under five, pregnant women, smokers, and people with comorbidities like diabetes and heart disease. ‘hypertension.
Myth: I have another medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease, so I’m not supposed to get a flu shot.
Fact: Research studies have proven that it is crucial for people with chronic illnesses to be protected against the flu by taking the flu shot. Indeed, a chronic illness can aggravate an influenza infection.
Myth: I have an egg allergy, so I can’t get the flu shot.
Fact: According to the advice of the US health sector regulator, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, people with egg allergies are no longer exempt from getting a flu shot. Unless they have a history of severe allergy with a history of hospitalization, people with egg allergies can still get vaccinated, with hospitalized patients having hospital access to the vaccine.
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has also released a list of risk factors that can leave individuals most at risk of developing flu-related complications. These groups will therefore benefit the most from vaccination:
Adults aged 50 and over
Children under five
School-age children between 5 and 18 years old
Close contacts of influenza positive cases
People with medical conditions including diabetes, chronic cardiovascular disease (excluding hypertension), chronic lung disease (including asthma), chronic alcoholism, asplenia (including including elective splenectomy and persistent deficiencies in complement components), chronic liver disease. renal failure, end-stage renal disease and on hemodialysis, those with extreme obesity (BMI of 40 or more)