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Demand for Flu Vaccines on the Increase

Otoori explains that the shots are taken on annual basis because every year, a new vaccine is manufactured depending on the new strains of flu that might be affecting people during a certain part of the year.

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There is increased demand for the flu vaccine, according to health facilities providing the service. The flu vaccine also known as influenza vaccine is administered to protect one against the influenza virus.

A new vaccine is developed twice a year because the Influenza virus changes rapidly. Some of the facilities offering influenza vaccination in Kampala include Jabez Vaccinations, Ritah Healthcare Services, AAR, and International Medical Clinics in Ntinda and Kololo clinics.

The health workers in the facilities said the number of Ugandans paying for the influenza jab has increased from 4 people on average each month six years ago to 40 people currently. Sharon Otoori, a nurse and proprietor Jabez Vaccinations, says there is a tremendous increase in the number of people getting the flu shot.

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On the open market, the flu shot costs between Shillings 45,000 to 50,000. Apparently, the vaccine is only available at private health facilities since it not among the 37 vaccines offered by government.

Brenda Nakiwala, a nurse at International Medical Center in Ntinda, says the shots are one of their most asked for on a weekly basis. "We get like 10 people on average asking for these shots. More people ask for them than other vaccines like rotavirus at the moment,” she said.

According to Nakiwala, those who take shots must follow it up with another shot annually. "If you used to suffer from fever when you got flu, the moment you stop taking the shot, you will suffer from the same effects," Nakiwala explains.

Otoori attributes the increase in the number of people demanding the shots to exposure to chemical reactions, which leave them exposed and more vulnerable to flu.

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According to doctors the shot is needed for persons with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, pneumonia, allergic tendencies, sickle cells, HIV, asplenia, asthma and those above 65 years of age.

Farouk Kiiza, a business man in Kampala, says the shot has become an annual health priority for him. "I was first forced to take the shot as I was carrying out research in the U.K. After that, I realized I had more to gain than lose from taking the short and I have made it a priority every year,” he said.

Otoori explains that the shots are taken on annual basis because every year, a new vaccine is manufactured depending on the new strains of flu that might be affecting people during a certain part of the year.

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Dr. Bernard Olaro, the Program manager Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization, says flu vaccines while needed in the population are not being offered at government health facilities because of ongoing research. 

"We are still carrying out research about the vaccine so we are not offering it in our health centers but as of now, we think few people need it within the population,” he said.