Experts caution on flu vaccine

Representational Pic

Amidst COVID19, the number of people taking influenza vaccine has risen while experts caution against a “less effective” variant sold to unsuspecting consumers.

J&K Drug Control Organization has issued directions to its Kashmir functionaries to take action against the pharmacists and suppliers involved in selling a variant of influenza vaccine that is not the most updated. The vaccine, referred to as SH (Southern Hemisphere) is meant for the flu season falling earlier this year in parts of the world where

flu peaks between March and June. A senior official in drug control organization said many people are being sold a vaccine at a cheaper price and made to believe that since its expiry is near, they will get it at a lower price. He however said that this vaccine is not the one being recommended and that people were being duped.

Dr Parvaiz Koul, influenza expert and head of internal and pulmonary medicine at SKIMS said that vaccines, especially influenza vaccines are updated depending on the three or four most circulating viruses. “The one that is manufactured earlier in the year is recommended for the Southern part of the globe, for their ‘flu season’. The one that best fits our flu season is the vaccine that is manufactured somewhere in July/August and works well through 2020-21,” he said. He advised people to be vigilant while getting vaccinated for influenza.

Controller Drugs J&K, Lotika Khajuria, said World Health Organization recommends that in J&K and other parts of India, Northern Hemisphere vaccine is to be administered at this time of the year. However, she has noted in her communiqué to Deputy Controller Drugs Kashmir that supply-chain for these vaccines provide both variants of the vaccine in the UT of J&K “which is contraindicated” to WHO guidelines.

The communication has directed the officer to take cognizance of any such violation and seize stock of the vaccine that is not recommended. “Ensure that only NH vaccines are made available to the end-user,” reads the letter.

A pharmacist who sells the flu vaccines at a private clinic in Dalgate said people should demand the package of the vaccine when they get a flu shot. “They should check whether their vaccine is in cold chain, has packaging intact, check and retain it to see if it meets the requirements as spelt out by experts from time to time,” he said.