The incidence of Influenza (flu) increases during winter. Seven deaths and 142 case of the ‘notifiable’ disease, Swine Flu, have been reported in Hyderabad. Daughter of Telangana Chief Minister and MP K. Kavitha was also diagnosed to have contracted the Flu. Some cases of Swine Flu were also reported in Visakhapatnam district. Fever experts say that all in the high-risk group should take the annual Influenza Vaccine.
According to the International watchdog of infectious diseases, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), annual flu shots are the most important way of preventing seasonal flu virus infections and potentially severe complications including death. They reduced not only the chance of one becoming ill, but also the chance of transmission of the disease.
Children and adults with chronic diseases such as asthma or other chronic pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, hepatic, haematological, renal or metabolic diseases (including diabetes), pregnant women, children below 5 and adults above 65, morbidly obese persons and health care personal and care givers are all members of the high-risk group. Those who travel to places with high incidence of flu are also better off if they get themselves vaccinated.
CDC trained specialist and visiting professor to medical schools in USA and Australia Ajay Katragadda said that Trivalent flu vaccine was the best for those in the high-risk group.
Trivalent vaccines protect the recipients from three flu bugs – Bird Flu (H3N2), Swine Flu (H1N1) and one strain of Influenza B virus. Flu vaccine, however, takes about two weeks to build up enough antibodies to protect the recipient.
The flu shots are expensive when compared to the other vaccines. This is because they are not subsidised like the others. The cost-effectiveness of the flu vaccine is different for different groups. In the elderly (aged over 65) most of the studies found that the vaccination is cost saving in terms of hospitalisation, etc. In the older adults (50 to 64) studies show the vaccines are cost-effective only and not cost saving.
Flu vaccines are specific for the year. Those who get themselves vaccinated should check the year on the vaccine, Prof. Ajay warned.