You take your little one to a pediatrician. He asks if you would like to get him vaccinated for influenza. Considering that the doctor presented it to you as an option, a lot of you deem it unnecessary and skip getting your child vaccinated. But did you know that flu vaccination taken before the monsoon season can reduce the risk by half?
According to Dr. Srirupa Das, Medical Director, Abbott shares National Center for Disease Control data shows that influenza cases have increased 5-fold in India from 2012-2019 and the number of deaths attributable to influenza has more than doubled from 405 in 2012 to 1,072 in 2019. In fact the virus causing influenza undergoes antigenic mutation and causes periodic epidemics and pandemics, thus making it a global public health problem.
Dr. Abraham Palache, a global expert in influenza vaccinology shared, “One study estimated that there were over 16 million influenza cases among under-5 year old patients in 2016, accounting for 10.9 million outpatient visits and 108,000 hospitalizations in India. To prevent this burden, vaccination remains the most effective method. Influenza vaccines reduce the annual burden of influenza associated disease, hospitalizations and deaths, and the WHO classifies inactivated influenza vaccines as ‘excellent safety’.” He further stated that people started taking the Influenza vaccine seriously in India after the outbreak of Swine Flu.
Infection rates among children are generally the highest of any age group during typical influenza seasons, averaging 25%–43%. Vaccination remains the most effective method of preventing influenza.
We have to agree that vaccines are truly among the biggest achievements of modern medicine. Some of the deadly diseases can now be prevented with the help of vaccines. Yet, interestingly, a lot of people don’t feel the same way for flu vaccines.
First, let us understand what exactly is a vaccination. Vaccination is basically the process of infecting a healthy person with a microbe to prevent disease. This helps the body learn how to fight it while its immune system is still strong.
So why should you get your child vaccinated? Modeling studies have estimated that annual influenza epidemics could be contained if 50%–70% of children were vaccinated. Dr. Abraham Palache elaborated on this community benefit, “Research shows that vaccination has a ‘herd-immunity’ benefit: high level of vaccination rates in children not only protect those who are vaccinated, but also protect non-vaccinated (pre-school) children and adults in their environment. It’s important to remember that we come in contact with the elderly, children, parents of children and pregnant women on a daily basis, all of whom could be put at risk of getting the flu virus from us. Getting yourself and your family vaccinated before Influenza season is beneficial not only for you, but for the entire community.”