Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) has urged parents to get their children vaccinated with the annual influenza (flu) vaccination. Earlier this October, the Ministry of Public Health in cooperation with Hamad Medical Corporation and PHCC launched the annual seasonal influenza campaign, providing free flu vaccinations. Flu prevention is a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, given that both symptoms can look similar and can spread in similar ways.
Influenza, commonly known as the ‘flu’, is a contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The change of season combined with the interacting of children at school, can lead to the spreading of the flu in the coming months. “Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever because of COVID-19. The flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19, but it will reduce your risk of developing the flu and flu-related complications, as well as reduce the possibility of getting infected with both the flu and COVID-19 viruses at the same time,” said Dr. Khalid Hamid Elawad, manager, Health Protection, Preventive Health Directorate at PHCC
“Children younger than five years of age - especially those younger than two years old - are at a higher risk of developing serious complications due to flu. Get your children vaccinated against the flu, as the flu vaccine not only protects the children against flu and its potentially serious consequences, but also helps reduce the spread of flu to others,” said Dr. Khalid Hamid Elawad.
Most often, children contract flu while at day-care or school, or due to interaction with others. Research has shown that with the flu vaccination, there are reduced cases of flu illnesses and doctor’s visits, less missed work and school days, and a reduced risk of flu-related hospitalization of children.
“Parents need to be informed that every child above six months of age need the vaccination against the flu. The only way to ensure the safety of infants (under six months of age) who are not eligible for the vaccine, is to get everyone else in the household including caregivers, vaccinated. Remember that infants who get the flu are more likely to have serious complications s than older kids. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to get your children vaccinated this season against flu, to avoid other complications,” said Dr. Khalid Hamid Elawad.
Both residents and citizens alike can receive the free flu vaccination at any of the Primary Health Care Corporation’s health centers. People with an existing appointment at a health center can ask their doctor for the flu vaccination at the same time; or also drop in without a scheduled appointment at their registered health center to immediately receive the flu vaccination. The clinics are open from 7.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. To schedule an appointment for the flu vaccination contact PHCC’s customer service Hayyak, on 107. The full list of private and govt clinics is available onwww.fighttheflu.qa
Moreover, to facilitate easy access to the vaccine this year, PHCC has set up Mobile Vaccination Unit to provide easy and fast access to vaccines as they move between several health centers, and work seven days a week in two shifts, from Saturday to Thursday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and one evening shift on Friday from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The Mobile Unit moves between PHCC’s eight health centers: Mesaimeer Health Center, West Bay Health Center, Khalifa City Health Center, Al Wakra Health Center, Abu Bakr Al Siddiq Health Center, Al Rayyan Health Center, Al Sheehaniya Health Center, and Airport Health Center.
“Influenza is very contagious. You can be contagious before you realize that you have the flu and you might spread it to others. Even if you haven’t been affected seriously by the flu, others like children or people with chronic diseases may get very sick. When you take the vaccination, the immunization helps keep your family and friends, and as such the extended community safe,” said Dr. Khalid Hamid Elawad.