A runny nose, a sore throat, cough and tiredness – could it be just the common cold or is it flu? The symptoms that mostly overlap, make it hard to determine who the culprit is. Unlike the common cold, influenza or flu as it is generally referred to, is a more serious condition and one that can lead to complications.
Is Vaccination Compulsory?
Is my child vaccinated against the influenza virus? No. I have always been a skeptic when it comes to vaccinating my child, choosing only those that are essential and relying otherwise on a healthy diet and a disciplined lifestyle. In hindsight, making this decision without first understanding the repercussions and a doctor’s perspective, is misguided.
Mothers Vs Influenza
At the recently held Mothers Against Influenza meet, which was graced by prominent doctors – Dr. Uday Pai (renowned pediatrician) and Dr. Mukesh Gupta (a well experienced gynecologist) and the face of influenza awareness in India – Genelia Deshmukh, I had the opportunity to learn about influenza, its seriousness and general lack of awareness at length.
Every year, influenza sickens millions, hospitalizes hundreds of thousands, and kills tens of thousands. It affects the respiratory system. Cold, body ache, lethargy and fever are some of the symptoms. This video highlights what it is like for children suffering from fly symptoms. This seasonal flu is caused by the influenza A, B, and C viruses. Since active strains of influenza virus vary from year to year and therefore a new flu vaccine is developed each year.
Are You at High Risk?
Babies and young children are at high risk of getting the flu since their immune systems are still developing. They do not have the same ability as adults to fight off severe infections, therefore they need an extra boost of immunity to protect against the illness.
Dr Udai Pai Good pointed out that most popular schools today have air conditioning and one infected child may spread flu to others in a closed environment. The recent data collected showed that flu was more rampant in children from affluent families.
Pregnant mother’s senior citizens and those with cardiac, asthma and other chronic diseases are particularly at a higher risk of suffering from the flu. Dr. Mukesh Gupta shared that pregnant moms can take influenza vaccine at any time during their pregnancy. Infact, the antibodies from the vaccine are passed on to the baby and this protection can last for several months even after baby is born.
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Experts agree that the single best way to protect your child from the flu is by getting him vaccinated each year. Though there are chances of the child getting the flu from a strain that was not covered in the vaccine, the impact will be a lot less severe. The annual vaccine is released in India between June & July.
The main issue with flu is that it is highly contagious and as such is easily spread by touching, coughing or sneezing by a flu affected person. This fact was highlighted by Dr. Mukesh Gupta who recommended Samuhik Vaccination wherein the entire family is vaccinated. This ensures that not just your child, but everyone around him is safe as well. Genelia Deshmukh shared that her children were safe because not only them, but those around them were also vaccinated. She urged that no mother must be a Worrier because she’s a Warrior. Best way to tackle your questions about flu is by talking to your doctor.
In addition to receiving an annual influenza vaccine, there are other things parents and caregivers can do to help prevent the flu. Use proper hand-washing techniques, use respiratory etiquette, and stay home from work or school if you are sick with the flu, to prevent spreading it to others.
With the information shared above and understanding how the vaccine creates a chain effect that goes on to protect each and every one of us, let us as a country take a stand to keep influenza at bay. We can foster an environment that moves away from illness into wellness. Preventing an illness at the onset is the best precaution one can take.
For more information, please visit http://www.mothersagainstinfluenza.in
” ‘ Disclaimer: I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for babies having Influenza. Any reader of this blog or their family members suffering from Influenza should specifically consult his/her doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment.’ “