The Maharashtra Covid Task Force recommends the flu shot for children. Experts explain why

The Maharashtra and Covid-19 Pediatric Task Force recommended Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray administer flu shots to children before the onset of the monsoon. As the flu and Covid-19 symptoms overlap, the task force believes the flu shot will help prevent panic among parents.

The chief minister assured that he would review the recommendation. Uddhav Thackeray also asked for more details on whether children with asymptomatic Covid-19 can get the flu shot.

India Today TV spoke to several medical experts about the effectiveness of flu shots and how to protect children during the monsoon season.

Flu shots provide much needed protection

Dr Suresh Birajdar, consultant, pediatrics and neonatology at Kharghar Maternity Hospital, said the flu vaccine should be given to all people six months and older.

“The flu causes pneumonia (lung infection) and bronchitis (infection of the tiny airways of the lungs causing wheezing and difficulty breathing) and sometimes a high fever can also cause febrile attacks. Getting the flu shot will help. this essential protection against various diseases will reduce the chances of hospitalization, ”explained Dr Birajdar.

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He added that children with respiratory problems and asthma would also benefit from the vaccination. “We know that the flu and Covid co-infection occur in children. Protection against the flu is of the utmost importance during this time of the Covid pandemic to prevent pneumonia and hospitalization. The flu shot has only minor side effects such as pain at the injection site and mild fever. for 2 days. It is completely safe and effective, ”said Dr Birajdar.

Dr Birajdar also said that parents should make sure that children follow good hand hygiene and wash their hands from time to time.

“Keep your children away from sick people, teach them to wear a mask and to maintain a safe distance. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, handles, floors and furniture. Monsoon is just around the corner, so get your kids to drink boiled water and avoid giving them food by the side of the road. Don’t delay or skip the vaccination at all costs, ”said Dr Suresh Birajdar.

No other protective weapon for children

Dr Vinit Samdani, a pediatrician at Bhatia Hospital in Mumbai, said the flu vaccine’s effectiveness was between 50 and 70 percent. He said that although the annual flu shot is recommended, it is not followed by many parents.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 in Children: Here’s How to Identify Symptoms and What Parents Need to Know

“The flu vaccine must be given because we have no other protective weapon for children to protect them and must not make them vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr Vinit Samdani.

Consult a doctor before getting a flu shot

Pediatrician Dr Vijay Bhave, while agreeing with the recommendation for the flu shot, urged parents to see a doctor before taking their children for the shot.

“All children under the age of 18, who cannot be vaccinated with any available Covid-19 vaccine, can get the flu shot as this will likely protect them from viral flu and the development of Covid-19 symptoms. See your local doctor, ”said Dr Bhave.

Flu shots available in Mumbai since April

Dr Nitin Shah, a pediatrician at PD Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai, said they provided the flu shot from April, before the flu season peaks in June-August.

“The vaccine used is called the Southern Flu Vaccine, which usually arrives in March. It has already arrived this year and we are already using it. This is not about preventing Covid but about preventing the flu which is also accompanied by coughs, colds and fever. The Indian Academy of Pediatrics has already recommended that the influenza vaccine be administered annually to all children, especially under 5 years of age for the past three years. This year, as the monsoon appears in June / July, all children should be vaccinated against the flu, as has been done in recent years, ”explained Dr Nitin Shah.

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