Paediatricians see a rise in demand for flu shots

Doctors say COVID-19 infections in children have reduced, but many parents are getting the flu shot for their children, especially after the reopening of schools.
Afshan YasmeenNovember 26, 2021 22:04 IST
Updated: November 26, 2021 22:05 IST

According to doctors, if a child has taken flu shot and gets COVID-19, the severity will be less

Karnataka has recorded as many as 35,083 COVID-19 infections and 33 deaths among children aged 0-9 years since June 24 when the decline of the second wave began.

According to data from the State COVID-19 War Room, as many as 84,061 children aged 10-19 years have tested positive and 52 have succumbed to the disease from June 24 till November 25. The corresponding numbers in these age groups from March 8, 2020, till March 8, 2021, were 27,646 infections and 28 deaths and 64,677 infections and 46 deaths, respectively.

From March 9, 2021 till June 23, 2021, as many as 58,818 child infections and 34 deaths in the 0-9 years group and 1,50,111 infections and 42 deaths in the 10-19 years group were reported.


Anxious parents

Paediatric experts said although COVID-19 infections in children have reduced in the last six months compared to the previous quarter, they are seeing an increase in the number of anxious parents getting their children to hospitals for flu shots, especially after reopening of schools.

Srikanta J T, Consultant - Paediatric Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Aster CMI Hospital, who is part of the high-level expert committee set up by the State Government to analyse, advise and control the third wave of COVID-19, said flu shots offer a possible advantage of ‘viral interference’ that prevents children from developing severe infections from COVID-19.

“While most symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are similar, influenza has higher mortality when compared to COVID, i.e. 1% vs 0.1 % respectively (100 times higher) which makes vaccination against flu extremely critical during the current scenario,” he said.

Yogesh Kumar Gupta, Consultant - Paediatrics at Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, said flu shots have gained importance during the pandemic. “Parents think that taking flu shots may protect their children. It does give protection, but it does not mean the child will not get COVID. However, if a child has taken a flu shot and gets COVID, the severity is less and if the child gets flu and COVID together, the severity will be high,” he said.

Gururaj Biradar, Consultant - Pediatrics, PICU and Neonatology at Manipal Hospital, Whitefield, said flu shots reduce the risk of infection by 40-60% in vaccinated children and are 90% effective in reducing flu related complications and deaths. “With a rise in paediatric flu cases during the winter, there is an increase in the number of parents bringing their children for flu shots,” he said.