BENGALURU: With experts saying that children may be more susceptible in the third wave, some health professionals have suggested giving influenza shots to children to guard them from it and added that doctors can start Covid-19 treatment in infected children at an early stage.
Some of the common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, headache, cold, which are similar to the flu. In a recently published journal, titled ‘The flu vaccination may have a protective effect on the course of Ccovid-19 in the paediatric population: When does SARS-Cov-2 meet influenza’, it said that Covid-19 positive children, who had received the influenza vaccine in the flu season, had lesser odds of experiencing symptoms, respiratory problems or severe disease.
Dr Srikanta J T, Consultant, Paediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Aster CMI Hospital, said, “Flu shots are vaccinations against seasonal flu caused by the influenza viruses. The mortality rate in influenza is 1 per cent while in Covid-19, it is said to be 0.1 per cent. Hence, it is important for children aged between 6 months and 6 years get the flu shots. It’s even more important during this Covid season and an impending third wave, as Covid-19 and influenza infections in children are more or less similar with fever, Coryzal symptoms with some children developing severe infection requiring hospitalization and other supportive care. As both resemble each other, it is pertinent to protect children with vaccines that are tried and tested.”
The price of the influenza flu vaccines ranges between Rs 1,500-1,690, which may not be affordable for all. Hence, doctors suggest that the government make it available free of cost in its health facilities. “Children with Covid-19 have so far largely been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, whereas the seasonal flu is known to be more severe in its presentation, although self limited and without any later effects. There could be a situation where kids, acting as silent asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19, may spread it further after having a co-infection with the seasonal flu virus.
These vaccines, which are routinely recommended for children, is all the more important during this pandemic. At the moment, the flu vaccines are available only in private clinics and hospitals and the need of the hour may be to make it available free of cost at government facilities as part of the National Immunization schedule. Presently, these vaccines are out of the reach of a majority of people. Hopefully, the government and the other experts on vaccines will think on the same lines,” Dr Kiran Raghu, Consultant, Paediatrics, Prakriya hospitals.
Dr Bhaskar Shenoy, HoD and Consultant, Paediatrics, at Manipal Hospital on Old Airport Road pointed out that the symptoms of flu and Covid-19 are similar. “As Covid-19 continues to spread during this 2021-2022 flu season, it’s important to ensure that children are protected against the flu. People who get the flu and Covid-19 at the same time might have a more serious illness. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza and potentially severe complications of the disease,” he said.