Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The FLU vaccine: What is it?

Does your child have ASTHMA (or whatever you prefer to call it: weak chest, chest allergy, bronchitis, allergic bronchitis etc.)?
Does he/she have recurrent colds, coughs etc. in the winters?
Does he/she have a hole in the heart?
Then the FLU vaccine is probably RIGHT for your kid.
What is the flu?
It is a cold like viral illness with more fever, bodyaches, and less running nose. If severe this can lead to pneumonia like illness.
One of the commonest reasons why young children (less than 2 years) get admitted in India is Pneumonia. It is interesting to find that many of these pneumonia are viral in origin (meaning do not respond to antibiotics), and it is estimated that almost 25-50 % of these may be due to the Influenza virus.
Who should get the Flu shot (vaccine)?
As per the US CDC recommendations 2004, ALL CHILDREN between 6 months to 2 years should be given the flu shot!
Adults over the age of 65 years (& probably even above 50 years as well), and those with chronic heart or chest problems like asthma should also get this vaccine.
What will the vaccine do?
In simple terms, it will reduce your child's chances of getting cold-like illnesses, and may reduce the chances of needing hospitalisation due to respiratory problems. Children with asthma and heart diseases are likely to benefit even more.
How much does the Flu vaccine cost?
In India till recently only a single brand of this vaccine was available (VAXIGRIP by Aventis), however this year GSK have come up with a competing brand (FLUARIX) and thus the prices have started falling, ask your pediatrician for details
What is the dosage for this vaccine?
The flu vaccine is UNIQUE in the fact that it has to be taken every year, and also because each year you get a different vaccine! Yes, every year WHO (World health Organisation) and other health bodies research the different types of viruses that cause Flu and then each year a 'fresh' batch of vaccine is prepared.
Two doses of the Flu vaccine are given in the first year (for children less than 9 years), and one every year thereafter. In children 6 months-3 years only half the dose (0.25 ml) is given Intramuscularly. The vaccine is NOT recommended below 6 months age.
For more on routine immunisations in India, visit Charak Clinics

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