'Southern Hemisphere seasonal vaccine not advisable in Kashmir'

As the demand for flu vaccines has shot up amid pandemic, some unscrupulous traders here have introduced ‘southern hemisphere seasonal vaccines’ whose strains as per doctors are not feasible for people in Kashmir.

Dr Parvez Koul, head of pulmonary and internal medicine at SKIMS told Greater Kashmir that “some unscrupulous elements are selling flu vaccines at high discount rates. I have been approached by many friends and patients regarding the feasibility of getting the flu vaccine available in the market which has an expiry date of December 2020. This is the SH (southern hemisphere) vaccine which is not recommended for the 2020-21 season for our flu season (we follow northern hemispherical seasonality).”

“There seems to be an attempt by some unscrupulous pharmaceutical dealers to sell the SH vaccine to the unsuspecting people as the NH vaccine. The expiry of the NH vaccine is in 2021 and it is generally manufactured in July/August 2020,” he said.

“The composition for the egg based vaccine for 2020-21 NH vaccine is as follows: A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus , A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2) like virus, B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus & B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.”

Dr Koul said that unlike in other parts of India, “in Kashmir we have different strains therefore the NH seasonal flu vaccine is recommended”.

Dr Yasir Wani, consultant pediatrician, J&K Health Services, said that anybody above the age group of 6-months can be administered northern hemispherical flu vaccine. “It is highly recommended for pregnant women as it not only develops their own immunity, but also helps in developing immunity of their unborn babies.”

“The recommended time as per WHO for administering this vaccine is ending October, our flu season peaks from February to March,” he said, adding that this vaccine should not be taken early as it loses its efficacy.

Dr Wani urged people to take the NH vaccine not the SH vaccine. “Manufactured in July/August 2020, its expiry should be sometime in mid 2021,” he said.