CHENNAI: With the arrival of the monsoon, there has already been an increase in flu cases in a few regions of the State. Doctors say that the risk of co-infection especially amongst high-risk individuals, especially children, and the elderly, are of concern. Experts say that annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months and older is significant in such times.
Emphasising the importance of flu vaccination, Dr Somu Sivabalan, Consultant Paediatrician and Pulmonologist, Dr Rela Institute and Medical Centre said, “It was common for children to be confined to their homes during the pandemic. As schools are functioning and students are exposed to the outside world, the risk of infections and illnesses has increased. Children are often affected by the flu virus, which is highly contagious and can be spread by close contact. Flu affects more than 40 percent of pre-schoolers and more than 30 percent of school-going children each year. In children, this would be further impacted due to lack of annual flu immunization that might make them more susceptible to disease," he said.
Infants under the age of five are particularly susceptible to influenza. A significant number of people with serious co-morbid conditions like those suffering from asthma, heart disease, and those over 65 years of age are also affected.
Flu can cause complications for the body, resulting in illnesses such as pneumonia. "The cases of influenza and Covid can have similar symptoms and be confusing. But prevention is important and vaccination is the most effective strategy to prevent these infectious diseases. While child immunisation is taken care of mostly, adult vaccination is often ignored. The influenza vaccine can reduce the risk of infection in all age groups. People who are on immuno-suppressants of some kind, will benefit from the flu shot," said Dr V V Varadarajan, Senior Consultant Pediatrician, Director of Academics at Rainbow Hospital.