The rainy season is around the corner and so are increased instances of bronchial infections and can aggravate breathing disorders like asthma. Wet and humid weather conditions offer the perfect breeding ground for allergies and infections.
The rains increase vegetation all around us, which also causes more pollen in the air. This forms one of the primary causes for asthma attacks, and those suffering from the respiratory condition are left highly vulnerable.
The latest session of HT Spotlight, titled ‘Be Monsoon Ready as a Family’, presented by Sanofi Vaccines, saw Dr Indranil Halder, Associate Professor, College of Medicine and JNM hospital, Kolkata share his views on how we can stay safe from infections this monsoon as a family and the importance of the flu vaccine in this.
Q. In your opinion, who in the family should be taking the flu vaccine?
Dr Halder: The flu vaccine protects against influenza, which is a viral respiratory infection just like Covid. It has similar symptoms like cough, runny nose, headache, mild GI, body ache. Flu is common in any population but it shows a lot of complications in the younger age group, below six years and also in the elderly group. Flu is also very dangerous for people who have chronic comorbid conditions. They are prone to having complications of flu, which may lead to hospitalization and even death. So, the most important target population for receiving the flu vaccine should be this vulnerable population.
Q. What is the best time to take the flu shot? Is it effective immediately?
Dr Halder: India is a tropical country and most of the places in India get the flu infection during the monsoon time, that is from July to September. So the best time to get the flu vaccinations should be just before the monsoons, that is in the month of April. The vaccine doesn't work immediately. It requires at least two weeks’ time so that the immune process develops and you get protected against the influenza virus.
Q. Considering we just came out of a pandemic, the teenagers are taking their Covid vaccine and the adults are now taking the precaution of those of Covid vaccine. So, what is your advice on how to space out the flu vaccine and the Covid vaccine?
Dr Halder: There are guidelines that have been sent down from the Government of India and there are also some recommendations that say that these two vaccines can be taken simultaneously in two different arms on the same day. But, if he has already taken the Covid vaccine, the best that one can do is to give a gap of two weeks, even though no gap is required theoretically.
Q. Are there any side effects of the flu vaccine? Would you recommend any dos and don’ts before and after taking it?
Dr Halder: It is an injection prick so there may be some pain at the site of injection. The only fear that we normally have if there is an anaphylactic reaction, which can happen to any medication or injection whatsoever. So, it should be given in a place where they can tackle that emergency situation, but it’s really rare. For those who are having an acute exacerbation of asthma or COPD or febrile, it is best to avoid the vaccine at that time. But once the person recovers, then we can give the vaccine.
Q. What is your advice to families for this monsoon season – who falls into the high-risk category when it comes to influenza and how can they be protected?
Dr Halder: Prevention is better than cure. So, prevent GI infections by maintaining hygiene, eating healthy food, and drinking clean water and against respiratory infections by following Covid protocols like masking and social distancing, avoiding crowded places, to be monsoon ready as a family.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is issued in public interest by Sanofi India with the intention to create general awareness around immunization including combination vaccines for children. This information does not constitute any medical advice, opinion and / or recommendation / for promotion of Sanofi products. Please consult your doctor for details regarding immunization. Opinions expressed herein are independent views of doctor(s). MAT-IN-2201411-1.0-05/2022