The world is reeling from the effects of a pandemic, and as a mother of two kids, I am always worried about their safety. Even though the vaccination is out for Covid, it’s not yet approved for kids. So, my duty as a parent is to ensure that they remain safe by following Covid appropriate behaviour, eating and exercising right, and not contracting any kind of seasonal diseases.
Speaking of seasonal diseases, it’s the time of the year when seasonal influenza (or “flu”) has started in India. It begins in April and is usually at its peak during monsoons. The symptoms of the seasonal flu usually are – fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache, joint and muscle pain. Considering that young kids are susceptible to this disease, getting them vaccinated with the flu vaccine is one of the best ways to keep them safe.
Now there are many myths surrounding the flu vaccine, one being that since it’s a seasonal thing and not that serious, vaccination is not required. Not long ago, I too believed this – thankfully, not anymore.
I have seen my young daughter struggle with respiratory issues, accompanied by fever and an ear infection too one flu season. Briefly, things got so bad that we had to put her on a nebulizer. Seeing her small face, covered with a mouthpiece, while she struggled to breathe in the medicine, was so painful. We regretted our decision of not getting our daughter the flu vaccine on time though our doctor had advised us in favour of it. We had to suffer silently, but thankfully she recovered slowly.
After that episode, we now make sure that our kids get their shot of the influenza vaccine at least 2 weeks before the onset of the flu season every year.
What is a flu vaccine?
A flu vaccine contains the inactivated/killed flu viruses which are injected into the body. This triggers our body’s immune system to produce antibodies to fight against these viruses.
When do you need the flu vaccine in India?
India has a vast topography, with different temperature zones which characterize the circulation of a strain of flu virus in the place. So ideally, one should check with their doctor about the best month to get the vaccine.
But broadly speaking, in India, the season of influenza peaks during monsoons (July-October) so it’s ideal to start the process of vaccination beforehand. (1)
The second peak comes during winters; therefore, vaccines should be given during September-October.
In case one misses the time window, there’s no need to worry as the vaccine can be given throughout the flu season.
Who should be vaccinated?
It is advised that every kid 6 months of age and above, till at least the age of five should get the flu vaccination before the onset of the flu season. School going kids, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with conditions like asthma and diabetes should also get the vaccination.
It should also be noted that since the flu virus strain keeps changing every year, and the vaccine is updated every year accordingly, it’s required to get the flu shot every year to have the best protection against the virus.
Currently, when our healthcare infrastructure is already burdened with taking care of Covid-19 patients, it makes all the more sense for the vulnerable ones – kids and old people to get flu vaccinations which are readily available for everyone. Moreover, since the initial symptoms of Covid and flu are almost similar, it is prudent to get vaccinated for the flu and rule out the possibility of getting infected with influenza.
We must #PreventWhatCanBePrevented because flu is preventable with vaccination.