Commonly referred to as the flu, influenza is caused by the influenza virus. It is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). The reaction of influenza, such as respiratory collapse, decreased functional ability and related cardiovascular complications could potentially put millions at risk of COVID-19. Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has used a prioritization approach for adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, advising vaccination of all people in risk groups to prevent "influenza, influenza-related complications, co-infection with SARS-CoV-2". This will eventually add up and build herd immunity against COVID-19, reducing the burden of the pandemic on the already-stressed healthcare system.
Flu vaccine amidst covid
Who are at high risk?
The elderly, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic long-term conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes), people with weak immunity and residents of a nursing home are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill and should take the influenza vaccine to provide protection.
Due to low awareness of the topic, it is observed that people mostly take the vaccine after the outbreak (as in the case of H1N1), which is usually too late. For lasting immunity through the season, the influenza vaccine dose must be taken at the beginning of the season.
An important thing to account here is that flu viruses are constantly changing. Today, seasonal influenza looks very different from one season to subsequent, and one geography to the next. It peaks between summer and monsoon, making April an absolute month to take influenza vaccine in India. As per government guidelines, those who have received both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine should wait 14 days before taking an influenza vaccine dose.
What is the Influenza vaccine?
Influenza injection helps protect you from influenza (flu). It works by exposing you to a minor dose of the flu virus which helps your body to develop immunity against the disease. Vaccination will not treat an existing viral infection. Normally, just one injection is required to guard you for a year. You should get vaccinated annually because new strains of the flu virus emerge frequently and different vaccines are developed.
Why does your child need to get their influenza vaccine dose?
Over a year has elapsed since the novel coronavirus disrupted the lives of many. Not only did it impact the adults, but children too were suffering from the ills of the virus, especially during the second wave. In between all this chaos, other viral infections that have existed long before the SARs-COV-2 virus have been sidelined. Given the seasonal changes and other factors, children are as vulnerable to flu infections as they are to COVID-19. It can cause several respiratory problems in children, which is why they must be given an influenza vaccine dose as soon as possible.
Influenza vaccine side-effects
Most side effects do not require any medical treatment and disappear as your body adjusts to the medicine. Common side effects of the Influenza vaccine are:
- Injection site reactions (pain, swelling, redness)
Influenza vaccine benefits
Influenza is a communicable disease that can take a toll on your child's immunity. By getting them vaccinated, you are not only building their immunity but also reducing the possibilities of hospitalization. Flu shots help minimize the danger of developing respiratory problems in kids and also prevent the kids from becoming super spreaders.
The initial flu shot is given six months after the birth of the child. Until then, he or she has his/her mother's immunity to shield them from the pathogens. After six months, parents must get their children vaccinated every year until five years of age.
Can flu vaccines protect children from COVID-19?
As per experts, flu shots can provide a possible advantage of 'viral interference', preventing children from developing severe infections from COVID-19.
A study was conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia, a group of 905 COVID-positive children admitted at Arkansas Children's Hospital System were given the seasonal flu vaccination. Following the flu shot, about 29% of the children seemed less susceptible to developing COVID-19 symptoms. Apart from that, the study added that 32% of the kids were also less likely to develop respiratory disease.
What is the right time for your kid to get their influenza vaccine?
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), October is the best month to get your influenza vaccine to get maximum protection against the virus, and the health agency suggests everyone over six months to get inoculated.
Published on: 20th July 2021