Protect your family with flu vaccination before the onset of monsoons
The expected heralding of monsoon conjures up the relief images from summer's scorching heat, drizzling rain, and the sound of clouds, revival of the natural beauty of trees and plants. However, the monsoon in its wake presents each of us with the challenge of braving the elements of the weather and battling water and food borne diseases including seasonal infection like influenza or flu in India.
Influenza may lead to significant absenteeism from schools or offices, and those with co-morbidities like diabetes or asthma are at-risk of flu related complications mortality. Mortality is highest amongst infants and the elderly.
The available statistics and estimates of about ten million patients each year in India bring about the daunting tasks of administering appropriate treatment, including flu vaccination before doctors and administrators. In the last two years, the in-season burden estimates were low due to Covid19 restrictions like masking, social distancing, staying indoors, maintaining hygiene, and viral interference.
As per Medical experts, the presentation of flu varies, and it may include symptoms like fever, sore throat, myalgias, frontal or retro-orbital headaches, nasal discharge, weakness, severe fatigue, cough, and other respiratory symptoms, tachycardia, and red and watery eyes. Cough and other respiratory symptoms may be minimal but frequently progress as the infection evolves. In children, diarrhea may be a feature.
Dr Nirmal Jain, MBBS/MD- Paediatrics from Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Guwahati stated, “Recently, many children have been exposed to the external environment and have begun spending time outside. Because children have been staying indoors, there could be a resurgence of infectious diseases.
With the onset of monsoon season, children are most susceptible to respiratory illnesses. Infants under the age of five are especially vulnerable to influenza. Those with comorbid conditions like asthma, heart disease, and people over 65 years of age are also severely impacted. Flu vaccination is considered a necessity to prevent the spread of the disease within the family and the community.
Co-infection between influenza and covid has also been observed. Children below the age of 12 do not have access to the Covid vaccine, making it essential to get the flu shot. This will minimize the chances of coinfection. Diagnostic screening is necessary to differentiate between covid and influenza in children and to recommend the appropriate vaccine. Washing hands regularly and regular masking contribute to preventing the spread of infections.
The Flu vaccine is updated every year in response to changes in virus strains. It is advisable to get the vaccine as early as May, as it takes a few weeks for the antibodies to build up during the Flu season (June-September)”.
Flu can cause turmoil in the body's major systems, and patients may require hospitalization if influenza exacerbates underlying chronic diseases. It may result in complications such as heart attacks or pneumonia. Adults, more than forty years of age are eight times more likely to have a first stroke and ten times more likely to have a first heart attack. Adults with diabetes have a seventy-five percent chance of abnormal glycemic events. In children, the risk of pneumonia increases eightfold.
Prevention is the most effective management strategy for influenza. The influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all persons to prevent influenza in ages six months or older who do not have contraindications. If a person is vaccinated and still develops flu, the symptoms will be mostly mild and not experience complications.
People already diagnosed with respiratory problems such as asthma should not delay getting vaccinated as they are at high risk of developing complications due to compromised respiratory tracts. Vaccination will reduce asthma exacerbations and influenza-related asthma complications.
According to WHO, India stands in the tropical zone except for J&K and Kerala. The peak time for influenza cases is observed between summer and pre-monsoon. Therefore, now is the best time to get the flu shot to give the body enough time to develop antibodies before the flu season starts.
Click HERE for more information on age-appropriate booster vaccines for 4-6 years old children.
The information in this article is issued in public interest by Sanofi India with the intention to create general awareness around immunization including combination vaccines for children. This information does not constitute any medical advice, opinion and / or recommendation / or promotion of Sanofi products. Please consult your doctor for details regarding immunization. Opinions expressed herein are independent views of doctor(s). MAT-IN-2201484-1.0.06/2022
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