The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) recently launched a flu campaign and has since treated 622 confirmed cases of different Influenza virus subtypes A and B.
Flu season occurs in Qatar during Fall and Winter and while influenza viruses circulate year-round, most flu activity peaks between October and February, and can last as late as May. The overall health impact (such as infections, hospitalisations, and deaths) of a flu season varies, with young children under-five years old the most vulnerable for serious complications.
Dr Zienab Shehata of the Communicable Disease Control section at PHCC said that the flu vaccine – currently available free of charge at 26 health centres in the country, offers the best defence against flu. Being vaccinated can reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed school days, and prevent flu-related hospitalisations and deaths in children.
PHCC Health Protection Manager Dr Khalid Elawad said parents should ensure that their young children are vaccinated as flu can be very dangerous. Children are affected more than others because their body’s immune system is still under development. Dr Elawad assured parents that the flu vaccine is safe for children under five, and that it has a good safety record for children.
Like all vaccines, some children may experience mild side effects such as soreness or swelling in the arm (after the shot administered), muscle aches and headache. But these side effects are almost always mild and short-lived.
To help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the flu, PHCC is encouraging parents to follow these measures:
- Children aged between six months and five years old should be vaccinated, as this is the best defence against the flu
- Help children remain healthy by providing them with nutritious diet (rich in vitamins and minerals) and plenty of water
- Children should wash their hands generally throughout the day, as this will reduce the spread of flu virus to others
- Children should avoid school or any social functions if they are unwell
The Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation and PHCC are working together to provide this year’s flu vaccine free of charge to all residents of Qatar.
To find out more information about the flu vaccine including where to get it, visit stoptheflu.qa.