Srinagar, March 24 (PTK): While a spike in flu cases is hitting children hard in Kashmir, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said that lack of vaccination is leading to an increase in influenza-like illness.
President DAK and flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement said that too many people are unprotected, as a result of which there is spike in flu cases.
More than 80 percent children in Kashmir are unvaccinated.
This is because of lack of awareness among parents about the importance of flu vaccine. Even if some children have been vaccinated but they are unprotected as they have got only one dose.
Children aged between 6 months and 8 years need two doses to be fully protected. The flu vaccine is particularly important for children as they attend school – an environment that allows easy virus transmission.
Unvaccinated children can pass the virus to others and can lead to institutional and community outbreaks. Despite clear guidelines, most of the pregnant women and health care workers are unvaccinated.
“Vaccination is the single best defense and protects you and people around you from flu. The ideal time to get the vaccine is before the flu season begins, that is by the end of October,” he said.
This is because flu is unpredictable and we can’t know when will the season peak, he added. Though the vaccine is for all but it is particularly needed in children, old, pregnant women and people with medical conditions as they are at high risk of flu-related complications, hospitalization and even death, he said.
Influenza viruses have the characteristics to change and they can evade the effectiveness of vaccine.
“Although a hugely funded CDC lab has been set up at SKIMS to observe this change but we have no idea which viruses are circulating and whether the circulating viruses match the current vaccine,” he said. (PTK)