PHCC urges patients with chronic conditions to get flu vaccine
Doha: Patients with chronic conditions have been urged to ensure that they are vaccinated against the flu this year. Flu vaccination is especially important for people with chronic conditions because they are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. Manager of Health Protection at the Preventive Health Directorate at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Dr. Khalid Al Awad said, “Flu vaccines are updated each year to keep up with changing viruses. Also, immunity wanes over time; annual vaccinations are recommended for the best possible protection against flu. If you are at high risk of developing serious flu complications, vaccination is especially important. When you get vaccinated, you reduce your risk of getting sick with flu and possibly being hospitalised from severe complications.” Individuals who need to be vaccinated against influenza, include those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, kidney and liver disease. Obesity can significantly increase the risk of influenza complications. In addition, pregnant women, older adults, and young children below the age of five years are also encouraged to take the flu shot as they could also be at high risk of severe influenza. “Last year, Qatar witnessed a large number of people diagnosed with influenza. Unfortunately, many patients with chronic diseases were hospitalised due to this. Many more individuals presented flu like illnesses across the system. 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 if you do have underlying chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Al Awad. To avoid a dual infection of influenza and COVID-19, Dr. Al Awad, recommends that patients, specifically those with chronic conditions “take flu out of the equation” by getting vaccinated this year. “COVID-19 is truly a transforming pandemic and we’re not through with it yet. Patients may face a diagnostic challenge because of the shared signs and symptoms between both illnesses. As we enter the winter months and into the flu season, the goal is to avoid an overlap of two respiratory-borne diseases, namely influenza and COVID-19,” said Dr. Al Awad. “I urge patients with chronic underlying health conditions, falling under the higher risk group, to ensure that they take the annul flu shot. Whilst commonly practiced public health measures are good to ensure you protect yourself against the flu, the flu shot is the best way to ensure you prevent infection and avoid serious complications,” he added.