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Why flu vaccines are needed before summer ends and rainy season begins?

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 03, 2024 08:10 PM IST

Parents should not skip the flu vaccination for children, fearing side effects. Here's why flu vaccines are needed before summer ends and rainy season begins?

As the flu season approaches, experts are advocating annual Influenza vaccination for all children aged 6 months to 5 years of age as it is a known fact that the symptoms of influenza virus and Covid-19 tend to mimic each other, leading to fear and anxiety among parents of young children. The flu shot acts as a vital defense, significantly reducing the risk of influenza-related complications in children so, read on as we help you to understand the importance of flu vaccination for children before monsoon.

Why flu vaccines are needed before summer ends and rainy season begins? (Image by Freepik)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anish Pillai, Lead Consultant- Neonatology and Paediatrics at Motherhood Hospitals in Kharghar and Navi Mumbai, shared, “Even though monsoon is known to provide that much-needed relief from the scorching summer heat, it is known to set the stage for a plethora of health problems, one of them being the ‘common cold’ or flu infection. Flu cases in children are common in every household during the rainy season. Thus, managing a child with runny nose, cough, and fever has become a part and parcel of a parent’s life.”

Why flu vaccinations are important for children?

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Dr Anish Pillai answered, “Influenza or flu is a contagious viral infection that takes a toll on the airways and lungs of a child and is the most common respiratory illness seen in children during monsoon. Flu leads to discomfort, and school absenteeism in children and impacts their quality of life. Also, some children may encounter severe symptoms such as breathlessness, hypoxia, irritability, and decreased appetite, requiring hospital admission. The flu virus spreads through the droplets released when a patient with flu tends to cough, sneeze or even talk. Hence, by being around an infected person, one can be at a greater risk of acquiring the flu.”

He explained, “The droplets in the air can spread up to about 7 feet away and reach others who are in the vicinity. So, for kids going to daycare or school, the monsoon season becomes a constant cycle of repeated flu infections and recovery. The flu vaccine not only protects the child but also shields those around them, including older family members and classmates. Flu vaccines are meticulously developed each year to target prevalent strains, ensuring best protection. The traditional flu shot contains inactivated (killed) flu viruses (influenza A and B), making it extremely safe and efficacious.”

Dr Anish Pillai elaborated, “Parents should not skip the flu vaccination fearing side effects, as they are minimal in the form of fever, headache and swelling for a day or two at the injection site. Getting vaccinated against Influenza annually will boost immunity and prevent severe symptoms or complications. So, parents, what are you waiting for? Schedule an appointment with the Pediatrician today and get your child vaccinated without any further delay to help him/her have a healthy monsoon. Other measures: To prevent flu, parents should teach children to cover their mouth and nose while coughing/ sneezing, wash hands regularly, maintain a safe distance from people, wear a mask if unwell, avoid crowded places or being around sick people and eat a nutritious diet to boost immunity.”

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