Effectiveness of Flu Vaccine in India: Do I Need a Flu Vaccine this Season?

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What is Flu?

Flu also known as Influenza is a contagious respiratory infection caused by viruses. It is an airborne disease that enters your body through your nose or mouth. Flu is different from cold and occurs in winters

Who are at risk of Flu?

Flu can occur to anyone, however, the complications can become serious or even deadly for elderly people, pregnant ladies, newborn babies, and people with certain chronic illnesses.

Elderly people have reduced immunity as the production of B and T cells in bone marrow and thymus are less, also there is a diminished function of mature lymphocytes in secondary lymphoid tissues. As a result, they do not respond to immune challenge as robustly as the young ones do.

If you are pregnant, then it is advisable for you to get a flu shot regardless of the stage of pregnancy you have reached. There are strong evidences that suggested that pregnant women are at increased risk of developing serious complications if they get flu. A flu shot taken during the pregnancy reduces chance of getting serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia etc, it also helps protect your baby as they will continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life

People with various chronic illnesses such as Asthma, heart disease, blood disorders, kidney, and liver disorder.

Current situation of Flu in Bangalore

As per a recent survey in Hindustan Times, It was reported that seasonal flu would strike India and the rest of the northern hemisphere badly in the current year 2018 as per a prediction by flu doctors based on outbreak trends in the winter of the southern hemisphere. According to a CDC report, there were more than 172 flu child deaths reported for the 2017-18 flu season, and Eighty percent of pediatric deaths occurred in children who did not get a flu shot.

Bangalore’s classic salubrious weather brings with it the seasonal flu. Hospitals are reporting an increased number of flu cases per day. As per Dr. Belliappa, practicing Physician and Business Head of RxDx says “There has been a substantial increase in the number of patients suffering from the flu this season.” He further says “Children fall prey to the second stage of the virus because of low immunity and they suffer difficulties in respiration.” Prevention may be possible, however, with proper vaccination.

Who needs the flu vaccine?

  • Anyone aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or lung disease)
  • Children and adults with weakened immune systems

Who should not take Flu Shots?

Children younger than 6 months, people with severe life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any ingredients of it.

When is the best time to get vaccinated?

The perfect time to get your flu vaccine is before flu activity begins to increase.

Prevention of Flu

Three ways to prevent flu: get vaccinated, good hygiene and antiviral medication.

The Flu Vaccine: While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests is the most common. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies protect against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

Good hygiene: Maintain good hygiene by washing your hand regularly; keep your keyboard, telephones, and door handles; use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.

Antiviral: If there’s an outbreak of flu,  and you are in contact with someone confirmed with flu, it is advisable to take antivirals post consulting your doctor.

How to differentiate between Swine Flu and Influenza?

Swine Flu: Swine Flu is caused by swine influenza virus. It primarily affects only pigs; however, pigs can transmit the virus to people. It spreads through close contact among pigs and can also spread to the human body by coming in contact with an infected person. Swine flu symptoms include sudden fever and coughing, a sore throat, and fatigue. In some cases, it may also be associated with a runny nose, stuffed nose, headaches, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Influenza Flu: Flu is an illness caused by influenza virus. Influenza is primarily transmitted by droplet transmission and contact transmission. Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea are usually seen in swine flu that are absent in Influenza.

How to differentiate between common cold and Influenza Flu?

Flu symptoms are usually absent in case of cold includes dry hacking cough, moderate to high fever, shaking chills, severe fatigue, severe muscle or body aches and nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms of cold are often milder and gradual in onset as compared to Flu symptoms that are quick and severe.

Observe your symptoms to understand which condition you have. If you think you might have the flu, see your doctor and get tested within the first 48 hours of showing symptoms. Do Not Self Medicate!!!

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