As the winter season approaches, people over 50 years old are urged to get the annual seasonal flu vaccination as early as possible to avoid serious complications from the virus.
Dr Hanadi Al Hamad, Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2018-2022 Lead for Healthy Ageing and Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) said that people over 50 years old are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu because human immune defences become weaker with age – lowering the ability to fight off viruses and bounce back after illness.
Dr Al Hamad said that as the weather begins to change and the cooler winter months set in, the number of patients suffering from the common cold, influenza and other viral infections of the respiratory tract increase. Older people are at a higher risk of complications from influenza and for this reason, Dr Al Hamad said they strongly recommended the influenza vaccine.
She said this year, with COVID-19 still a threat to our health, it’s more important than ever that we take every possible step to protect ourselves from the seasonal flu.
It takes about two weeks to build immunity to the influenza virus after being vaccinated, so it’s important for those aged over 50 years to get the vaccine as early as possible. A flu vaccine is the best and most effective way to protect yourself, your family and your friends from influenza.
To ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated this year, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), HMC, and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) are again offering the flu vaccine to all members of the public free at 27 health centres and in more than 45 private clinics.
Dr Al Hamad also stressed the importance of older people ensuring they are protected this flu season, noting that they may be more susceptible to complications such as pneumonia and the worsening of existing chronic medical conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes.
She said that the benefits of the flu shot for older people are clear and overwhelming. She added that people can get their COVID-19 booster shots at the same time since the flu and COVID-19 are two different viruses.
Clinical studies have shown that it is safe and effective to get both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time. You can safely receive your booster dose and the annual flu vaccine at the same appointment, according to Dr Al Hamad.
While the flu and COVID-19 are two different viruses, it is important to ensure you are protected against the seasonal flu this year. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19; however, the flu vaccination has many other important benefits – it is shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation, and death.
For more information about the flu vaccine and where to get it, go to fighttheflu.qa.
Check out Marhaba’s FREE e-Guides for more information about Qatar.