The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) announced that a total of 105,000 persons have been administered the influenza vaccine since the launch of the campaign till last week.
The health ministry, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) along with semi-government and private clinics have again joined forces to offer the public and healthcare workers the free flu vaccine this year to ensure easy accessibility for all.
"The most common misconception surrounding the vaccine is its potential to give you the flu. Its possible to experience slight side effects like soreness, redness or swelling in the vaccination site, or a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches. These reactions typically last one or two days," said manager, Health Protection and Communicable Diseases at MoPH Dr Hamad al-Romaihi.
"After receiving the shot, it takes your body about two weeks to build up antibodies to fight the flu, so if you come in contact with the virus during that time, you may still get sick, which is why you should get your flu shot as early as possible."
Dr al-Romaihi said there was also a common misconception that the flu is just a "bad cold" and nothing to worry about. "Influenza is a serious condition which can cause hospitalisation and even death. Anyone can get the flu, but especially people whose immune systems are more vulnerable. Most people will recover within a few days, but some can develop serious complications that can lead to death," added Dr Romaihi.
According to Head of the Vaccination Section at MOPH, Dr Soha Albayat, the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and they are urged to have the vaccine as soon as possible before the winter season hits in full force.
"Pregnant women should especially get the flu vaccine since their immune systems are weaker than usual," Dr Albayat said.
"Pregnant women have a higher risk of hospitalisation compared to non-pregnant women of childbearing age if they get influenza so its important to be vaccinated as soon as possible."
Pregnant women who take the vaccination are also protecting their unborn babies. "When a pregnant woman is immunised, antibodies that fight the flu virus cross the placenta and can protect her baby in those critical months after birth when babies are too young to be vaccinated against the flu themselves," said Dr Albayat.
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