The flu virus can cause serious illness and lead to hospitalisation and even death – with more than 500 people being hospitalised due to the flu each year, a Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) expert has warned.
“The flu is not just a bad cold – it’s a serious illness,” according to Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director of HMC’s Communicable Disease Center. “Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. More than 500 people are hospitalised in Qatar each year for flu and its complications and between eight and 12 patients die every year because of influenza.”
Dr al-Maslamani said the flu vaccine was being offered earlier this year so that members of the community can build immunity ahead of this year’s flu season.
“We are already seeing a significant number of people presenting at medical facilities with the flu, we have decided to take a proactive approach and offer the vaccine earlier than usual,” Dr al-Maslamani said. “This is why you should get the flu vaccine as early as possible – it takes up to two weeks for the body to develop immunity against the virus. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others – therefore it is important to take all measures to protect yourself and your family.
“In addition to getting the free flu vaccine, it is also recommended that you take everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat and lungs) illnesses, like flu.”
Dr al-Malsamani reminded people that the flu vaccine has been made available at 28 primary healthcare centres and more than 40 private and semi-government clinics.
“Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalisations and deaths,” Dr al-Maslamani said. “Everyone aged six months and above should get the flu vaccine, especially those in high risk groups such as pregnant women, people aged over 50, people with chronic conditions and young children.
“To reduce the spread of the influenza and the risk of serious complications, and help protect the most vulnerable in our communities, it is more important than ever to ensure that you are vaccinated this year.”
More information, including where to get the flu vaccine in Qatar and FAQs about the flu and Covid-19, can be found on the campaign website - www.fighttheflu.qa