Societies in Mumbai get flu shots for children
After holding Covid-19 vaccination drives for adults, societies in Mumbai have now started organising vaccination drive for influenza, also called flu shots, for children on their premises. This may help boost immunity among children to fight influenza, which has similar symptoms similar to Covid-19, said experts. Doctors have welcomed the move.
Recently, several major private hospitals, including Bombay Hospital, Hiranandani and Lilavati, are receiving requests from societies to hold camps for flu shots.
“We received two types of calls from societies – one to hold Covid-19 vaccination camps for adults and the other, to organise camps for flu shots for children. On a daily basis, we are getting around three-four queries regarding flu shots,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at Bombay Hospital and in-charge of Covid-19 beds in private hospitals.
Dr V Ravishankar, CEO of Lilavati Hospital, said, “Many anxious parents want to give the shot to their children as at present, due to age restriction, children aren’t allowed for Covid-19 vaccination.”
On Saturday, Atmosphere Society, Mulund held a camp for flu shots on their premises, where around 70 children got the jab. Talking to HT, Sanjay Nair, 53, the resident and organiser of the camp, said, “Covid-19 and flu have similar symptoms. So, even if a child contracts the flu, it makes parents anxious, which unnecessarily leads to chaos. Beds get filled with suspected paediatric patients. To stop such instances, we decided to give the flu shots to children.”
Data shared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows that the Covid-19 infection among children doubled in April, compared to February when the second wave started. As of February 21, as many as 5,397 children between the age group of 0-9 years contracted the infection, which rose to 10,883 on April 30, the month when the pandemic curve was at its peak.
In May, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) recommended giving annual flu shots to all children below 5 years. In fact, Maharashtra’s paediatric task force made a similar recommendation to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray which may be fruitful in the fight against Covid-19 in a possible third wave.
Dr Subhas Prabhu, who heads the paediatric task force, said the symptoms of Covid-19 and seasonal flu are similar. So, taking the shot might help control the mental anguish of parents if their children develop a flu. “There is no scientific evidence that the third wave would hit the children more. So, I can’t comment on it. But if taking the shot may help control development of influenza, it would decrease the unnecessary burden on the hospitals. This is just a precautionary measure,” he said.
Dr Meenakshi Girish, head of the paediatric department, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Nagpur, said that the shot will not provide any protection against Covid-19, but may help in boosting immunity among children. “Every year, during monsoon, we witness a heavy load of paediatric patients with influenza. The jab helps strengthen their immunity which may help control such infections.”
The cost of the shot varies between ₹1,200 and ₹1,400 which makes it unaffordable for many. State task force expert Dr Sanjay Oke has suggested the state make the flu shot free for children coming from poor economic backgrounds.