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Flu Cases Peak Amid Monsoon Season – Pediatrician Urges Flu Vaccine For All School Going Kids

Experts predict we may be in for a difficult year when it comes to the flu

Transmission of influenza (flu) virus happens through the nose and respiratory tract particularly when kids share close quarters like they do in school classrooms. Children younger than 5 years are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications, hence flu vaccination should be made an integral part of the child’s back to school plan. This coupled with Covid appropriate behaviors of masking and sanitizing should protect the child from seasonal infections. Experts predict we may be in for a difficult year when it comes to the flu.

Highlighting the need for the influenza vaccine for Dr. SK Sehgal, MBBS, DCH, MD – (Pediatrics) Consultant Pediatrician, Delhi said, “Influenza is a contagious viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Common symptoms include fever, cough, aches, and chills. Though the symptoms seem to mimic the common cold to some extent, if left untreated, flu can be dangerous, especially for the young (<5 years), the elderly (>65 years), and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma. If not taken suitable care, flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia and may result in hospitalisation.

Due to following covid appropriate behaviours and lockdowns, there has been a decrease in the overall disease incidence, however resurgence of the disease is still possible. Children are now going out to school and play with each other, resulting in greater exposure. Though wearing a mask and using a sanitiser are standard precautions that should continue to be maintained, vaccination remains the most effective in preventing infectious diseases like flu. In India, flu peaks during the monsoon, making May the ideal time to get a flu shot.”

As per WHO, India comes under the tropical Asia zone. This means that a peak in influenza cases is observed between summer and pre-monsoons, therefore, the ideal time to vaccinate starts from April as this gives enough time for antibodies to develop in the body and protect against flu.

The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) recommends co-administration of covid-19 vaccine along with other scheduled childhood vaccines (e.g. flu vaccine). This coupled with covid appropriate behaviours of masking and sanitizing should protect the child from seasonal infections.

Flu can result in up to 35% increase in OPD visits and excess hospitalisation in children. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent flu infection, which affects at least 4 out of 10 children in the pre-school age and a minimum of 3 out of 10 children in the age group of 6 to 12 years, during outbreaks.

So, if children are attending school or heading out for family vacations, both of which involve exposure to crowds, parents should make sure their vaccination schedules are up-to-date and the entire family is vaccinated against influenza. To protect kids against infection is essential in the developing years as it may impact on their growth.


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