Hyderabad: With the onset of monsoon there is a spike in H1N1 flu cases across India. This raises the risks of co-infection amongst high-risk individuals, children and the elderly thereby, posing a possible public health issue, say experts.
The flu season last year was controlled as the government imposed preventive measures to curb transmission of Covid-19, however, this caused low levels of immunity within the population. Experts predict a severe flu season in the current year. WHO says vaccination is most effective way to prevent contagious infections.
Dr M Surendranath, Sr Consultant, Paediatrician, Vijay Marie Hospital Hyderabad while emphasizing the importance of flu vaccination said: “Flu is a very contagious virus, and an infected child can spread the virus to others, even before they begin to show symptoms and for up to seven days after becoming ill. It is the parents’ responsibility, school authorities, and healthcare professionals’ responsibility to keep children’s vaccination up to date as they have begun to venture out. Given the overlapping symptoms between Covid and flu, it is advisable to complete the vaccination schedule on time along with the annual flu vaccination.”
Flu vaccination prevents aggravations of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is highly effective in the prevention of influenza-related acute respiratory infections (ARI) regardless of the severity of COPD. The Indian Academy of Pediatrics also recommends co-administration of Covid vaccinations with other vaccines such as flu.
Flu can damage key organ systems and have a devastating effect on the body, resulting in complications such as pneumonia. It can result in up to a 35 per cent, increase in OPD visits and excess hospitalization in children. During outbreaks, at least four out of every ten preschool-aged children and three out of every ten children aged six to twelve years are affected. In the developing years, it is critical to prevent children from infection as it can affect their growth.
WHO categorizes India as part of the ‘South Asia’ transmission zone of influenza circulation, which is more aligned with the SAstrains. According to the IAP Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Immunization Practices (ACVIP), the ideal timing for flu immunization is before peak influenza activity. In India, influenza activity is normally limited throughout the year, with a clear peak during the rainy season all over the country.Vaccination is the most effective strategy to prevent any infectious diseases. Hence, it is critical to complete the immunization schedule for children and adults alike, to stay healthy in the long run.