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Explainer: Why are flu vaccine shots necessary in Kashmir?

Srinagar: As the valley heads towards winters, health experts are now recommending people to get a flu vaccine shot- which has been touted to act as a preventive shield against the soaring viral infection and decrease the risk of developing other respiratory problems like H1N1 and pneumonia, which could aggravate a person’s risk of getting COVID-19.

What are flu shots?

Flu shots are vaccine doses that help prevent people from catching influenza. Getting annual flu shots is considered to be the best bet of defense against catching the infection. Since the virus keeps on mutating every year, people are asked to get flu shots every year.

Pregnant women, infants, children, people aged 65 and above and those with pre-existing conditions are considered to be at a higher risk and thus are recommended vaccines more often than others.

Why should people take flu shots?

1. The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and flu (influenza) are two different illnesses caused by different viruses. The flu shot will not help fight coronavirus infection, but getting a flu shot this autumn is even more important than previously considering the ongoing COVID pandemic.

2.  This will reduce the risk of getting the flu and thus need to visit or stay in hospital. Therefore, it will not only reduce the overall burden on the healthcare infrastructure but will also reduce the chances that people have to visit hospitals where there is an added risk of catching corona infection.

 3. In vulnerable groups, influenza can be very dangerous, and often requires hospitalization. Flu shots can decrease the number of cases of influenza. And even if someone gets it after the flu shot, its severity would be less.

 What does the Doctors Association of Kashmir say about getting the flu shots?

1. Flu shot as such will not slow down the ongoing pandemic, but it is very imperative to control the frequency of influenza cases by vaccinating all people in general and vulnerable in particular.

2.    Because illness caused by Covid-19 and influenza have a similar clinical presentation and influenza cases will overburden health infrastructure to a larger extent including critical care areas.

3. Further there are chances that a person may get simultaneously infected with both viruses, therefore, can increase mortality and morbidity.

When should people get vaccinated?

 1.  As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, people should get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

 2.  However, getting vaccinated early (for example, in July or August) is likely to be associated with reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season, particularly among adults.

 3.  Vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January, or later.

Which vaccine is available in the market?

1. There are two vaccines.  FluQuadri vaccine produced by Sanofi Pasteur and Influvac Tetra vaccine by Abbott (MRP rate of Influvac Tetra is Rs 1,680).

2. FluQuadri vaccine is considered the best brand among the vaccines. It will be available in the first week of October in Kashmir.

3.The vaccines can be administered to the age group- from six months old to the elderly. However, the dosage varies with each group.

Influvac Tetra vaccine by Abbott
FluQuadri vaccine