So, the rains are finally here. With monsoons also comes a flurry of water-borne diseases and infections. Of those, influenza is one of the most acute viral infections that affects 3 to 5 million people every year.1 This serious health hazard is often considered an extension of the common cold and cough2 and potentially affects at least 5 to 20% of the general population3, needs our attention as well as planned prevention.
Reading all these statistics was scary so I went to my paediatrician with my doubts and he was very helpful in answering my questions. He also told me about the importance of annual influenza vaccination. Apart from the information that the doctor shared with me, I also researched a little and here’s what I found out.
Well, to be honest, many people think of flu as just a common cold, when in reality it is a severe respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization. Also, elderly people are much more vulnerable to it with 40-50% of senior citizens being prone to getting it.2
The 3 types of Influenza or seasonal flu spread mainly through air and surface contact shared with an infected person as it affects primarily the nose, throat, bronchi and sometimes lungs too. Common symptoms are fever or chills, the flushed appearance of sweating accompanied by sneezing, coughing and a runny nose along with body ache.2
Fortunately, a new vaccine is made available medically every year to fight the circulating virus and protect the population against the current strain. Anyone who is above 6 months of age is eligible to receive the seasonal flu shot from their local physician. Annual vaccination is recommended for all including pregnant women as well as senior citizens including those having pre-existing medical co-morbidities.4
After the vaccine, the immune system starts producing antibodies against the viral infection within 14 days of taking the vaccine.4
First up, even if you feel you have missed the window to take a flu shot, check with your doctor. Flu vaccines are available throughout the flu season.6
Apart from that, the following steps can be undertaken for the safety and prevention of seasonal flu:
- Sanitization and proper hygiene measures are to be followed by all.
- Make sleep a priority for children. Getting adequate sleep can help boost immunity.7
- Remember that vaccination is important, so try and get it administered to the child as soon as possible. 7
- Simple things like steam inhalation and soups can help you get rid of a stuffy nose. Of course, do consult your doctor if the stuffy nose doesn’t see relief.8
- Along with warm liquids and soups, ensure you’re properly hydrated. Water also helps regulate our body’s temperature.9
- Honey works wonders. A teaspoon twice a day, especially during nighttime before bed gives a lot of relief to a sore throat.10
I wanted to share all of this vital information with you as I recently attended an extremely informative Facebook Live interview by Dr Sadanand S. Shetye, neonatologist and paediatrician at Moralwar NICU and Child care, Navi Mumbai and Dr Mangesh Tiwaskar, consultant physician and diabetologist at Shilpa Medical Research Centre, Mumbai.
Organized by Abbott India, life was instrumental in giving me a clear picture of flu, the causes, precautions one can take to reduce its risk, information on vaccines, its different types as well as its efficacy. The doctors also explained why annual flu shots are important and how we can protect children now that schools have reopened. You can watch the live conversation here.
Remember, prevention is better than cure. Always adopt a healthy and balanced approach towards addressing your health and related issues promptly. Let’s join hands in this #FightAgainstFlu.
Hope this article on seasonal flu shots was helpful. Do let us know your views in the comments section.
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