Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is often mistaken for its less serious counterpart: the common cold. The names for both these viral infections are often used interchangeably. However, those who have experienced influenza will know that it is more than just runny nose and bouts of sneezing. Besides the symptoms being more intense and serious, the disease can also have dire consequences in people who have compromised immunities, such as children and aged adults.
The World Health Organisation estimates that influenza is the cause of up to 650,000 deaths every year. Fatalities can occur due to complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart or brain and circulatory shock.
Is There Any Way To Prevent Influenza?
A yearly vaccine is all you need to keep influenza from disrupting your life. There are two types of vaccines: injectable and intranasal. While the first is given through an injection, the intranasal vaccine is imbibed as a spray into your nostrils.
Does That Mean Both Vaccines Are Needed?
Only one type of vaccine is required. There are many studies that state that the clinical efficacy of the intranasal vaccine is superior to the injectable vaccine. The intranasal is thought to be more beneficial for several reasons. Here’s why it is preferred:
● The injection vaccine initiates antibody production only in the blood, whereas the intranasal vaccine gives protection on two counts: the blood as well as mucosal immunity (the nasal tract), offering an added level of protection against the virus.
● With the injectable vaccine, the likelihood of getting ill is low, however, the virus can initially multiply in the nasal track and be passed on, giving full blown influenza to those who do not have immunity against it.
● The intranasal vaccine is easier for children (and some adults) to handle as it does not involve a needle or any pain that is associated with injections.
Which Intranasal Vaccine Do I Get?
You can trust the Serum Institute of India’s intranasal live vaccine, which has been developed in accordance with the recommended viral strains by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Serum Institute of India is one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers.
How Often Should I Get This Vaccine?
It is recommended that an individual get it once a year, at the start of flu season - usually June to October in India. You can also ask your doctor when the vaccine is available and take it accordingly.
Why Do I Need A Vaccine Every Year? Isn’t Once Enough?
Remember the H1N1 virus in 2009? Also known as swine flu, this was just a newly-mutated strain of influenza which caused a pandemic around the world. Viruses that cause the flu can constantly mutate, leaving you under-protected against the new strains. Every year, the common new viruses are added to the flu vaccine formula to better your protection against the disease.
That’s why it’s hugely important to protect yourself and your loved ones each year from getting the disease which attacks approximately 5-10% of adults and 20-30% of children, annually. A simple yearly vaccine has the power to keep away the most common strains of influenza, leaving you fit and fine all through flu season and beyond.
Can I Vaccinate My Child Against The Flu, Too?
Yes, the vaccine is recommended for children starting from the age of two years old and older. This is the same vaccine that is suitable for use in healthy adults and elderly people.
Is There Anyone Who Can’t Take This Vaccine?
The vaccine is completely safe for most people. However, it is not recommended for those who have egg allergies and asthma. Discuss your medical history with a doctor before getting the vaccine.
How Would I Know If I Have Influenza?
Influenza is extremely contagious and spreads through contact with infected respiratory droplets. This can happen if you breathe in when a person with influenza has coughed or touched or shaken hands with someone who is infected by the virus, subsequently touching your own mouth or nose.
The viral infection attacks the respiratory passages (the nose, throat and lungs) of a person and symptoms can leave you feeling weak and drained for weeks. Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch out for:
● Over 100.4 F fever
● Cold sweats
● Persistent dry cough
● Sore throat
● Nasal congestion
● Muscle pain
● Feeling weak
Serious complications that can arise:
● Bacterial pneumonia
● Ear infections
● Sinus infections
● Vomiting, diarrhea and nausea, especially in children
● Worsening of existing health conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes
The risk of influenza can be banished by one simple action: getting you and your family to take the intranasal vaccine. Add getting the flu vaccine to your list of health priorities to keep well throughout the year.