Bahrain doubles flu vaccine orders on new fear
Manama, June 22, 2014
Fears over the spread of deadly viruses in the Middle East have spurred Bahrain's Health Ministry to up its annual order of flu vaccine to 50,000 doses.
Recent outbreaks of H1N1 swine flu and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV) in the region have increased awareness of the importance of vaccination, Health Ministry material management directorate director Sahar Al Qahtani told the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
"Since last year, we have doubled the quantity of vaccines that we have ordered, because the residents of Bahrain are more aware of infection what with all the news in the media about it," she said.
"They are also more aware of the vaccinations that can be taken."
Al Qahtani explained that the vaccines will arrive in Bahrain in three batches - the first 5,000 doses before the start of the Haj season, then 20,000 in September and an additional 25,000 in October ready for the start of flu season - which peaks around January in the Northern Hemisphere, according to US national public health institute and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccines will be supplied to hospitals and health centres across the country, Al Qahtani added.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued its own travel advice ahead of Haj season, which is expected to start in September, warning that the annual mass pilgrimage could give Mers-COV the opportunity to spread.
"It is important for countries to use all practical and effective means possible to communicate information on a range of issues before, during and after Umra and Haj," it said in a statement.
Pilgrims should be advised to maintain good personal hygiene, adhere to good food safety practices and avoid attending crowded places if they develop a significant acute respiratory illness, according to the WHO.
Countries should also advise travellers to avoid close contact with camels, refrain from drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, and not eat meat that has not been thoroughly cooked, it adds in its recommendations.
Saudi Arabia's Haj Ministry reduced the official quota for pilgrims going on Haj last year due to ongoing expansion projects in the Holy Mosque - giving Bahrain only 3,700 allocated places instead of the usual 5,000.
Mers-CoV is a deadly virus, thought to originate in camels, that carries a high fatality rate.
In Saudi Arabia alone, the Health Ministry has reported 704 confirmed cases of the virus infection since June 2012, 289 of which resulted in death. - TradeArabia News Service