UAE doctors call for flu vaccination

Doctors say there is no need to panic but are advising flu shots be given to school-aged children and the elderly after a global flu warning was issued.

They suggested that those with diabetes and other chronic diseases should also take precautions by getting vaccinated against the latest strains of the influenza virus.

The BBC reported yesterday that northern hemisphere countries were being told by health experts to brace themselves for flu outbreaks, especially of the so-called swine flu (H1N1) and influenza B.

Asked if we should be worried now that holidaymakers would be returning to work from Europe and North America, Dr Ram Shukla, specialist in infectious diseases, said it was better to take precautions.

“We do not know how the seasonal flu spreads, though we know that one way is through carriers,” he said. The specialist said parents should make their children take basic precautions such as washing their hands and not eating with dirty hands.

The specialist said those with chronic renal or kidney disease needed to take precautions and be vaccinated. Dr Lalit Uchil, specialist family physician, said children, pregnant women and diabetics should be vaccinated against the new strains of flu.

Not expensive

The flu shots are not expensive in government hospitals and cost Dh40 to Dh80 in private hospitals, he said.

The volume of patients going to their doctor with flu-like illnesses also rose, more than doubling to 87.1 per 100,000 in the past week, the BBC reported.

Dr Uchil said every year between 30,000 to 40,000 people die in North America alone due to flu.

Dr Shukla said the flu season would continue until March or April.

Mahmood Saberi
Gulf News

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