Winters are just around the corner and you must have already noticed people sneezing, coughing or having a headache. Welcome to the Flu season!
Seasonal cold/ flu/ influenza is a contagious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. It causes mild to severe illness. The virus gets transmitted from person to person via droplets. Influenza tends to spread rapidly in seasonal epidemics. It is recognized by a sudden onset of fever, headache, runny nose, cough, body pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell) and sore throat. Sometimes, the cough may last for 2 or more weeks.
Usually, people recover from fever and other symptoms within a week without any medical intervention. However, it can cause severe illness leading to death especially in people at high risk. Worldwide, these annual flu epidemics have resulted in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness and around 2,90,000 to 6,50,000 deaths. It can lead to high levels of absenteeism at work/school and productivity losses. Clinics and hospitals can get overcrowded during peak illness periods.
Who is at a higher risk for complications or severe illness due to Flu?
- Kids between the age of 6 months and 5 years
- People older than 65 years
- Pregnant women
- Patients with chronic medical conditions like lung diseases, heart disease, liver disease, blood disorders, diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders, long term immunosuppressive therapy, and HIV/ AIDS
- Health care workers
How does Flu/cold spread?
When a person having flu, coughs or sneezes, small droplets containing viruses are spread into the air and can infect other people in close proximity who breathe these droplets in. The infection can also spread by hands and surfaces contaminated with influenza viruses like doorknobs, hand towels, taps etc. The period of communicability of disease is from 1 day before to 7 days after the appearance of symptoms. Doctors recommend that in order to prevent transmission, patients should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing / sneezing and wash their hands with soap regularly.
How can I protect myself from the Flu?
WHO says “the most effective way to protect yourself from Flu is by taking Influenza / Flu vaccination”. Injectable inactivated influenza vaccines are most commonly used throughout the world. Protection from vaccination diminishes over time; therefore, vaccination is recommended every year to protect against infection. Since, influenza viruses keep constantly evolving, WHO states recommendations twice a year to update the vaccine compositions. WHO highly recommends annual vaccination for high-risk groups including health care professionals.
The Flu vaccine is most effective when circulating viruses are well-matched with viruses contained in vaccines. Rarely, you may get an infection even though you took the vaccine. Although the efficacy of the vaccine is around 70% to 80%, but it helps in preventing severe complications of influenza. Ideally, you should get vaccinated just before the flu season begins for the most effective protection, although getting flu shot at any time during the influenza season can still help prevent infection.
Getting a Flu shot every year is the best way to prevent the infection and its complications
Since the flu viruses causing a majority of infections change from year to year, so the WHO has recommended taking a vaccine before the start of winter in the northern and the southern hemispheres to protect against infection, complications, hospitalization and death.
Unlike in the US and Europe, where seasonal flu spreads mostly in winter, India records two peaks of the infection, in winter and during monsoon.
Flu vaccine at RxDx:
If you want to protect yourself from the nasty Flu and spend a carefree winter, get vaccinated today since the flu season has already started. You can meet our primary care physicians, talk to them and get vaccinated at your convenience. You can also plan and get your full family especially the kids and the older people vaccinated together.
Don’t forget– Flu Shot is particularly important for kids below 5 yrs, people over 65 years, pregnant women, people with chronic infections and diseases, and people with compromised immunity.
Also, since the immunity against the virus develops after about 2 weeks of vaccination, therefore, people who haven’t got vaccinated in India this year must get their shots now.
Dr Manjari Bansal– Content Writer, RxDx
Inputs given by,
Mr Ashwani Sinha – Chief Impact Officer, RxDx
For further details, please contact: 080-49261111, 6745-8111