The Maharashtra government has been advised by experts to immunise every child with the Influenza vaccine, which is widely accessible in the private market but does not come under the national immunization programme, ahead of the monsoons. The suggestion was made to deter unnecessary RT-PCR tests and overcrowding of the state’s hospitals by people with flu-like symptoms that similar to Covid-19’s.
A virtual meeting was held on Sunday where the Maharashtra Covid and paediatric taskforces jointly suggested Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray make an exception for this year in view of the raging pandemic and inoculate the state’s children with the Influenza vaccine before the onset of the monsoons, The Times of India reported.
The Chairman of the State Covid taskforce, Dr Sanjay Oak, told CM Thackeray, suggested that the government should reduce the price of the vaccine, which is currently available at Rs 1,500 – 2,000 per shot, so that it can be widely administered to every child in Maharashtra “in the next six months”.
Dr Suhas Prabhu, who heads the paediatric taskforce, said, “Flu patients may present Covid-like symptoms. If they all start coming to hospitals and if RT-PCR has to be done for all, there will be added expenses and crowding in hospitals. At least for this year, the state may make an exception and give the vaccine to all children.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) has recommended that the Influenza vaccine, which contains two subtypes of influenza A and two lineages of influenza B, must be given for children below the age of five.
CM Thackeray said that his government will consider the suggestion. “However, we need more clarity on whether asymptomatic Covid positive child can take the vaccine. Vaccination is not at all an issue but how, when and whom to vaccinate should be clear to avoid further complications,” said Thackeray.
“It is safe for a child to get BCG, rubella or any vaccine that they may have missed out on if four weeks have passed since the onset of Covid symptoms,” said Dr Vijay Yewale, also a member of the paediatric taskforce.