Flu Rates Soar in UAE

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Fraser Clarke

The UAE has reported a far higher than average demand for the flu vaccine, after an unexpected increase in the number of cases already this winter.

This has lead to a shortage of the vaccine in the Northern Emirates of Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman and Ras, with waiting times for appointments in some clinics now stretching for a couple of weeks.

Abu Dhabi appears to have bucked the trend, with vaccines available at plenty of facilities - and rates remaining more settled than elsewhere.

Speaking to the Khaleej Times about the flu season, internal medicine consultant at Burjeel Day Hospital, Dr Fadi Baladi, said: “People start thinking about flu between the end of September and early November, and at that time we are vaccinating tens of patients each day.

“Recently though more patients have been coming in for the flu vaccine as a result of more news about people becoming unwell.”

This year flu has already lead to two deaths; one involving a 17 year old student, and another in the case of a nine year old schoolgirl. 

Currently the UAE’s Ministry of Health recommends the flu jab to everyone over the age of six months, without allergies to any of the vaccines components. Special priority is given to those with underlying health conditions (such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes), as well as the elderly and pregnant women.

It costs around Dh60 (£12), but with demand high anyone in a risk group who hasn’t yet been vaccinated is urged to book an appointment as soon as possible.

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