Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday urged people to get vaccinated against influenza (flu) ahead of possible severe flu season.
“We are expecting a bad flu season, making this year’s flu shot all the more critical,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
Dr Hassan said the past two flu seasons have been milder than usual, with low numbers of cases and very few hospitalizations.
The decline was because of Covid precautions such as face masking and social distancing. People were also traveling less during the height of the pandemic.
“Now that people are out without masks, travelling extensively, business has resumed and children are back to schools, there are more opportunities for the virus to circulate and flu could make a comeback,” he said.
The DAK President said in typical years, a good percentage of the population gets infected with influenza and builds immunity against the infection.
“What we are seeing are a couple of years where we didn’t see infection. So more people may be susceptible to influenza in this season that could lead to higher rates of infection and also more severe cases,” he said.
“Moreover, the southern hemisphere witnessed the worst flu season in five years which is an indication that this could be a bad flu season in the northern hemisphere as well,” he added.
“That makes this season’s flu vaccine vitally important,” said Dr Nisar.
He said everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine before the start of flu season which begins in October and can last late into May. Since it takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become fully effective, it is best to get the vaccine now. However vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season.
This season’s flu vaccine has been updated to better match currently circulating viruses.
“While the vaccine is recommended for all, it is especially needed in young children, elderly, pregnant women and people with medical conditions,” he added.