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UAE hospitals report spike in demand for flu vaccine as airlines implement new MoHAP rule for Umrah pilgrims

Dubai: Hospitals Witness Surge in Demand for Flu Vaccines as Airlines Implement New MoHAP Rule for Umrah Pilgrims

As UAE airlines begin enforcing the Ministry of Health and Prevention's (MoHAP) new influenza vaccination requirement for passengers traveling from the UAE to Saudi Arabia for Umrah, hospitals in Dubai report a notable increase in the demand for flu vaccines.

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The MoHAP recently declared that all travelers embarking on Umrah and Hajj journeys must receive the influenza vaccine, with enforcement starting on March 26, 2024. Emphasizing the significance of adhering to vaccination protocols and health precautions, the ministry aims to enhance public health safety during religious pilgrimages.

Etihad Airways, among other airlines, swiftly responded to the mandate, announcing that passengers traveling from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah are obliged to present a valid influenza vaccination certificate at check-in. However, certain categories of passengers, such as transit travelers whose journey originates outside the UAE and residents of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) holding proof of residency, are exempt from this requirement.

The announcement has sparked a rush among individuals planning Umrah trips during the holy month of Ramadan to secure their flu vaccinations promptly. Private healthcare facilities across Dubai have observed a surge in requests for flu shots, with many individuals seeking last-minute vaccination services to ensure compliance with the new regulations. Dr. Lulu Azeez A, a specialist in Internal Medicine at Aster Hospital Al Qusais, highlighted that the urgency to meet vaccination requirements has prompted individuals to prioritize vaccination ahead of their travels.

Dr. Saira Haider, a general practitioner at Burjeel Day Surgery Centre, Al Reem, underscored the urgency among travelers to update their vaccination status on the Al Hosn app before departure, leading to increased demand for vaccination services on short notice. Dr. Jyothish George, specialist dermatologist and director of Homecare Services and Vaccination at Prime Hospital, noted a surge in flu vaccine-related inquiries, indicating heightened awareness and compliance with the new travel regulations.

Recognizing the importance of meeting the 10-day validity period for vaccine certificates, healthcare professionals urge Umrah pilgrims to get vaccinated promptly to ensure sufficient immunity against flu viruses. Dr. Haider emphasized that optimal immunity typically requires at least 10 days after vaccination, advising travelers with imminent travel plans to prioritize vaccination to meet the validity requirement effectively.

Healthcare facilities are fully equipped to accommodate the increased demand for flu vaccinations and have implemented special measures to streamline vaccine administration. These measures include walk-in vaccinations, homecare services, extended operating hours, and increased staffing to ensure efficient vaccine distribution.

While Emirati citizens receive flu vaccinations free of charge and expatriate residents can avail themselves of the vaccine for Dh50 at selected Dubai Health centers, private healthcare facilities offer flu vaccinations at varying costs, ranging from Dh75 to Dh120 depending on vaccine formulation and promotional offers available.

In light of the heightened demand for flu vaccines and the urgency to meet travel requirements, healthcare providers are committed to facilitating timely vaccination services and ensuring the safety and well-being of travelers embarking on Umrah journeys during Ramadan

March 29, 2024 6:30 p.m. 2690

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