By Dr. Hemant P Thacker,
As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to evolve, the comparisons have been drawn to other respiratory diseases like Flu, Pneumonia and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV in elderly). Covid-19 and influenza viruses have a similar symptomatic presentation. That is, they both cause respiratory disease and certain other similar outcomes. Older people, and adults with pre-existing medical conditions specially Diabetes are more vulnerable to become severely ill due to Influenza or Covid-19. However, people with diabetes, by virtue of a fragile immune response have a 5 in 1 chance of contracting respiratory diseases as compared to the population in general, making vaccination the most effective way to prevent seasonal and respiratory infections like flu. This is undoubtedly the right time for vaccination since India is a southern hemispheric country where respiratory diseases take a peak in monsoon.
According to various research, people of all ages can be infected with respiratory diseases. It has been estimated that influenza causes 2.9 – 6.5 lakhs respiratory deaths annually worldwide. However, in many cases of influenza, the respiratory illness is mild due to adoption of early preventive measures but in case of covid-19, almost 15% of cases are severe with critical illness.
Even WHO recommends that the Influenza vaccination must be prioritized for pregnant women, children?(special precaution must be taken for the age group of 6 months to 5 years), elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart conditions, and healthcare workers.?
Vaccines: Aids prevention and allows protection
Vaccination helps the immune system develop and boost protection shields in any-body against diseases. An influenza vaccine has been around for over 2 decades now and despite the pandemic, it is indeed advisable to immunize oneself as a safe precaution to reduce burden on the healthcare system. An influenza vaccine potentially prevents the symptoms from disrupting our daily lives, saving thousands of trips to the doctor each year. Besides, vaccines are not only important for your personal wellbeing but also for the safety of others, especially the loved ones around us.
Certainly, immunization is a process which allows protection and prevention and must not be limited to children. Adult immunization is equally important to strengthen primary healthcare systems. Amidst Covid-19, there is a rise in the number of adults proactively taking regular vaccination and that could be a great start towards building herd immunity.
Health management amidst Covid-19
With the ongoing lockdown and fear of going to the hospital, managing health during the pandemic has been quite a task. While getting the Covid-19 vaccine is critical, one must also get an influenza vaccine as primary protection against H1N1 and other circulating types. Other safety measures must be followed by staying at home and maintaining social distancing, stepping out only when necessary and wearing a mask while stepping out. Similarly, people with diabetes can protect themselves by staying in regular contact with their physicians through telemedicine, keeping a track on proper recommended diet and blood sugar, staying hydrated and most importantly adhering to all prescribed medications.
(The author is Consultant Physician & Cardiometabolic Specialist and Director & HOD Medicine at Bhatia Hospital. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)