Posted on October 27, 2015

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has urged healthcare professionals and people at increased risk to take precautions against influenza, including vaccinations, as the colder months approach. Influenza, commonly known as the “flu”, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. The flu virus spreads from person to person through the inhalation of respiratory droplets from someone who is infected. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, HMC’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Education, and Head of Infectious Diseases said high-risk category for the severe flu include small children under the age of five, pregnant women, those with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other chronic lung conditions, people with cancer and those on immunosuppressive therapy and the elderly. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women.

“Each flu season, different flu virus strains spread and affect people differently based on their body’s ability to fight infection,” Dr. Al Khal said. “Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu and can spread it to friends, co-workers, and family. “HMC takes this opportunity to remind people that the influenza season will be starting soon and are advised to take preventative measures including the seasonal flu vaccine which can protect against the virus,” he said.” “Patients at increased risk or their families can ask their doctors or nurses at the clinic how to get the vaccine. “

 Other proactive measures you and your family can take include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an anti-bacterial rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread this way.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Healthy people can also be vaccinated against the flu if the vaccine is readily available. HMC will start its annual influenza vaccination campaign for clinical and support staff in early November.

“The annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the risk that you will catch the flu and spread it to your loved ones,” Dr. Al Khal said.

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