Health officials are urging the public to take both the flu and Covid-19 vaccines to protect themselves and the community.
Taking the Covid-19 vaccination will not protect patients from the flu, a senior health official said, advising the public to take both shots to ensure full protection.
Dr. Soha Al Bayat, Head of Vaccination at Qatar’s health ministry confirmed a separate flu shot is needed to help prevent the seasonal influenza even if the Covid-19 vaccine has already been administered.
“I would like to remind you the flu vaccine does not protect you from Covid-19 and the Covid-19 vaccine does not protect you from seasonal influenza,” said Dr Al Bayat.
“So we encourage you to take both to protect yourself and those around you.”
The official said ensuring full protection would help ease the pressure on the country’s health care system, which is already dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Seasonal influenza, known as the flu, is most often caused by type A or B influenza viruses. It affects hundreds of thousands of people annually in the region and includes symptoms of sudden onset of fever, cough, headache muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose.
Although most people recover from fever and other symptoms within a week, the cough can be severe and last up to two or more weeks, according to the World Health Organization.
However, for high-risk groups, influenza can cause severe illness or even death in some cases. For this reason, is highly recommended to take the flu vaccine every year in order to stay safe during the winter season.
Groups of those at high risk include children below 5, pregnant women, those above 50 years of age, and those with chronic illnesses. Dr. Al Bayat urged all groups, including healthcare workers, to take the flu vaccine to keep them safe and protected.
Both influenza and the novel coronavirus are contagious respiratory illnesses and share similar symptoms. This means it may be hard to tell them apart without getting tested.
In a video on social media, the health official said influenza causes hundreds of thousands of people to be admitted to hospitals around the world due to its harsh symptoms and easily transmissible nature.
“With the winter season fast approaching, it also means the season for in influenza. Influenza is not a simple disease as some may think; it actually causes the admission of hundreds of thousands of people across the world. And unfortunately, it also leads to the death of some,” said Dr. Al Bayat.
Qatar’s health ministry, Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation have already kicked their annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaign for the year.
The campaign was launched early than usual after indications revealed that the flu season may creep up sooner.
“To protect yourself you have to take influenza vaccine annually as the viruses change. And to make it easily accessible for all in the state of Qatar it’s been made available in all primary healthcare centres and more than 40 private clinics and semi-government clinics for free for all,” the official added.