This year's flu vaccine more crucial than ever, says DAK

With flu season around the corner and Covid19 still wreaking the havoc, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday said this year’s flu vaccine is more crucial than ever.

“Getting a flu shot in times of Covid-19 crisis is more important than ever,” said DAK President and Influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan, in a statement issued here.

“We would be facing a double whammy of flu and Covid this fall and winter. This could be one of the most complicated public health times with the two coming together,” he said.

“You can catch the flu and Covid at the same time and that increases your risk of ending up in ICU or on a ventilator,” he added.

“That makes this season’s flu vaccine vitally important,” Dr Nisar said adding “Flu vaccine will reduce the risk of simultaneous infection and reduce the burden on already overstretched health care system.”

“Receiving a flu shot could make it easier to tell if you have Covid-19 in the event you get sick as both illnesses have similar symptoms,” he said.

Dr Nisar said if you do develop flu, you are at higher risk of getting a severe Covid-19 infection.

Flu vaccine reduces the odds of severe disease, ventilator support requirement and death among Covid-19 patients.

A Brazilian study has found that flu shot can reduce mortality by 20 percent when taken before the onset of Covid-19 and about 27 percent when the vaccine was given after the onset of Covid-19.

He said everyone 6 months and older should get annual flu vaccine before the start of flu season which begins in October and can last late into May. Since it takes 2 weeks for flu vaccine to become fully effective, it is best to get the vaccine in “September.” 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 – Victoria and Yamagata is recommended.

“While the vaccine is recommended for all, it is especially needed in young children, elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions.

Vaccination to expectant mothers is critically important to protect their new born babies’ upto 6 months who are too young to receive the vaccine,” said Dr Nisar.