Don’t panic if you sneeze! Could be flu, not COVID-19
HYDERABAD: With the ‘new normal’, experts see yesterday’s health concerns re-emerging, especially post-Covid-19. While Covid-19 continues to be a major contagion, experts advise to be watchful for influenza – a highly virulent respiratory bug and a Vaccine-Preventable Disease (VPD).
With the ease in restrictions and approaching monsoons, there looms a threat of influenza amid Covid-19 pandemic. As both these infections have a similar clinical presentation such as difficulty in breathing, fever and pneumonia, it is advisable to be prevented against influenza to rule out the danger of one certain diagnosis.
“With this being the season for influenza, dengue and other tropical infections, it is difficult to clinically differentiate between them,” says Dr K Shiva Raju, senior consultant physician and head, Department of Medicine, KIMS, Secunderabad. Fortunately, influenza can be prevented by effectively administering the latest strain of Influenza Quadrivalent vaccines as per WHO recommendations.
Elaborating Dr G Sampath, ex-medical officer, the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Hyderabad said, “In India, adult vaccination has not gained as much importance as childhood vaccines. In this stressful world full of lifestyle diseases, adults need vaccinations as much as children. Individuals with comorbidities like diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs), asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), are more susceptible to influenza and Coronavirus.” Dr Shiva adds, “The severity of these virus infections can be reduced by 60 per cent when vaccinated.”
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Protect the protectors
“Along with all individuals resuming work, the influenza vaccine should be mandatory for Healthcare Workers (HCWs),” recommends Dr Shiva. Vaccination of HCWs will not only protect them from occupational exposure, but also protect their patients, especially the ones who are vulnerable, like babies below six months of age, and elderly population with comorbidities. Dr Sampath also added, “The health environment across the world is changing and employee wellness programs need to keep pace – it can no longer be restricted to a token fitness or social session.”
Lead to complications
Dr Tapaswi Krishna, consultant pulmonologist, Global Hospital, Lakdi-ka-pul cautions against “blanket everyone taking the influenza vaccine.” While saying that children under the age of five and senior citizens over 60 with comorbidities may be recommended to get vaccinated, everyone should not just take it. She says, “If someone is either symptomatic or asymptomatic Covid-19 carrier and takes the vaccine unknowingly, it can lead to antibody clash that can prove counter-productive.” Instead, she recommends, “social distancing, hand sanitisation and mask for all kind of flu.”