With flu season just around the corner, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday urged people to get vaccinated against flu.
"Vaccination is the single best defense against flu," said DAK President and flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
He said everyone six months and older should get annual flu vaccine before the start of flu season which begins in October and can last as late as May.
"Since it takes two weeks for flu vaccine to become fully effective, it is best to get the vaccine now. However, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season."
Dr Nisar said this season's flu vaccine has been updated to better match currently circulating viruses. This year quadrivalent influenza vaccine containing H3N2, H1N1 and two B viruses is recommended. There are number of flu vaccines available, but there is no preference for one vaccine over the other.
"The nasal spray flu vaccine is back for children and needle-shy adults. It is approved for people between age of 2 years and 49 years. It is not recommended for pregnant women," he said.
"Getting a flu vaccine reduces illnesses, doctors' visits, hospitalization and death," said Dr Nisar.
He said while the vaccine is recommended for all, it is especially needed in young children, elderly, pregnant women and people with medical conditions.
"Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time and those who have received only one dose in their life time should get two doses of vaccine this season spaced at least 4 weeks apart," he added.
Dr Nisar said vaccination to expectant mother is critically important to protect their newborn babies' upto 6 months who are too young to receive the vaccine.
"It is mandatory for healthcare workers to get vaccinated to prevent spread of flu to patients who are vulnerable to flu-related complications and death," he informed.
Dr Nisar said in addition to the yearly flu vaccine, people can prevent the spread of the flu by maintaining good hygiene.
"Washing your hands and covering your cough or sneeze will keep you and people around you healthy and well. If you are down with flu, stay away from work, school and gatherings until you are free from symptoms," he said.
Flu is a respiratory disease which manifests with cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose and body ache.