Parents urged to get children vaccinated as UAE study shows half of flu cases in under-10s

A new study helps to understand the groups most at risk from seasonal influenza

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Parents have been urged to get their children vaccinated against seasonal flu as they are at a high risk of contracting the infection.

A survey of 30,000 people released by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) showed almost half of the recorded cases of flu between 2017 and 2019 were in children under 10.

The DHA figures help in understanding the groups most at risk from influenza.

Doctors and researchers looked at trends recorded in people displaying flu symptoms and found the flu season runs from the end of September until February but infections peak in November and December.

Both seasonal influenza and Covid-19 have similar clinical manifestations; so, this flu season, it is imperative to take the flu vaccine

The data has been passed on to hospitals to help them deal with the dual threat of influenza and Covid-19 over the coming months.

“The aim of the study was to identify risk factors associated with the infection and identify the demographic distribution most vulnerable to the disease,” said Khalif Jallaf, director of the data and research department at DHA.

“We strongly promote data collection and research with an aim to help devise evidence-based policies to enhance the health sector in Dubai and promote public health and well-being.”

All age groups, gender, nationalities, occupations, education and seasons were considered for the study.

Results showed 84.53 per cent of the total seasonal influenza cases during 2017 to 2019 were handled at the outpatient level.

The remaining cases were considered severe enough to be admitted to hospital.

Rates of influenza have increased since 2017, said the study.

Vulnerable groups and those with existing medical conditions have been advised to get themselves vaccinated.

This includes medics, school staff, pregnant women and children.

Last week, Dr Omar Al Hammadi, spokesman for the federal government, said at a Covid-19 media briefing that people should get a flu jab, to avoid complications should they also catch the coronavirus.

Dr Abdishakur Abdulle, associate director of the Public Health Research Centre at New York University Abu Dhabi, urged the public to remain vigilant this winter as flu symptoms are similar to Covid-19.

“Both seasonal influenza and Covid-19 have similar clinical manifestations; so, this flu season, it is imperative to take the flu vaccine,” he said.

“It can take two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu."

Symptoms can be fever, chills, a sore throat, persistent cough and runny nose.

Sufferers also report fatigue and body aches and vomiting.