MOH News
The Home Medicine Program to Provide Vaccinations for 500,000 Persons Vulnerable to Be Affected with Influenza
17 December 2014
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched today the Seasonal Flue Vaccination Campaign throughout the Kingdom. Vaccinations will be provided for about 500,000 persons, who are highly prone to developing the acute complications when contacting the seasonal flu virus.  

The Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health, Dr. Abdullah Assiri, explained during the press conference that was held today (Wednesday) morning at the MOH headquarters, “Our target is to provide vaccinations for 75% of the categories highly prone to developing the flu complications annually by 2019. We are focusing this year on the categories at higher risk, including staff of the health sector, pregnant women, and patients with chronic diseases.” 

He noted that MOH's flu vaccination campaign has been developed in line with the World Health Organization's Global Action Plan (GAP) for Influenza vaccines. It is a comprehensive strategic plan to reduce the current world shortage in the vaccines of seasonal epidemic and pandemic influenza in all countries all over the world. 

Answering journalists' questions, Dr. Assiri said that the campaign is targeting this year 500,000 persons, who are highly prone to developing complications during the influenza season, including 150,000 health professionals. He pointed out that the vaccines are now available at the MOH's health facilities, including 275 hospitals and 2,259 primary healthcare centers spread all through regions and provinces of the Kingdom.

Likewise, Dr. Assiri indicated that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of severe cases which require healthcare worldwide at about 3 to 5 million cases annually, while the number of deaths due to the complications of the virus is about 250,000 to 500,000 cases annually.

Within the same vein, he added, “This campaign, which is organized by the MOH in collaboration with the WHO, will last for five years. The first phase, which will be carried out this year, includes staff of the health sector, pregnant women, and patients with chronic diseases. The second phase includes children under five, while the third phase includes the elderly, Hajj and Umrah performers, and visitors of the Two Holy Mosques.”

On her part, the Supervisor of the National Immunization Program, Dr. Aesha Ash-Shammari, said, “This campaign will be launched at certain locations inside the MOH hospitals and public healthcare centers available at all regions of the Kingdom. The MOH will launch a health awareness campaign for all members of the community, together with holding a series of lectures for staff of the health sector who provide care for categories at higher risk with the aim of briefing them all on the updates of the influenza vaccination and its role in reducing the risks of developing serious complications due to contracting the virus.”

“Taking the annual Influenza vaccine is vital for the categories at risk, as the response of the human immune system to influenza viruses decreases over time due to the continuous change of the scattered influenza viruses,” Dr. Ash-Shammari elaborated. “Therefore, the vaccine is updated annually by the WHO to keep up with the changing influenza viruses. To that end, staff of the health sector, pregnant women, and patients with chronic diseases are advised to take the vaccine immediately to protect themselves against infections.”

Within the same vein, Dr. Ash-Shammari revealed that more than 1,000,000 doses of the vaccine have been secured. Of all, the MOH provides 500,000 doses and coordinates with the pharmaceutical companies to provide 500,000 others for the private health sector; that is to be added to the other vaccines provided by other governmental sectors.

It is worth mentioning here that the campaign targets staff of the health sectors, pregnant women and patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetics and patients with heart and thoracic diseases, etc. Studies have shown that the influenza vaccination curbs the spread of infections in the society and reduces the possibility of contracting the acute complications of influenza by 70 to 90 percent.  


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