Swine flu scare: No policy by government of India on preventive vaccination for H1N1
The swine flu vaccines cost anywhere between Rs 400 and Rs 1,000 per shot and in the last few days there has been a sudden increase in their demand due to panic over deaths.Durgesh Nandan Jha | 19 February 2015NEW DELHI: Healthcare workers are at maximum risk of catching swine flu from infected patients. However, the government seems to have no clear policy on whether or not they should be given preventive vaccination.
Dr S K Sharma, director of health services, Delhi government, said on Wednesday they have not procured any vaccines for their doctors and nurses this year due to absence of any direction or policy from the Centre in this regard. In the last five years, several vaccines have been launched in the market that claim to prevent the viral infection but officials maintain that including them in public health policy is still not required.
"We have to assess their cost-effectiveness and whether the efficacy remains the same despite change in strain," said Dr Sharma. The swine flu vaccines cost anywhere between Rs 400 and Rs 1,000 per shot and in the last few days there has been a sudden increase in their demand due to panic over deaths being caused due to the viral infection in the country. Because the healthcare workers-doctors and nurses-have to work closely with the infected patients they are at higher risk to catch the virus.
TOI spoke to the medical superintendent of one state-run hospital designated for treatment of swine flu. He said there is fear among doctors and nurses posted in the swine flu ward and that he has requested the state health department for directions. "All healthcare workers have been asked to take precautionary measures such as wearing masks. While the efficacy is still under question, we feel taking measures can help better," he said.
The government, the doctor added, has to weigh cost-effectiveness benefits of the vaccine before including it in the public health programme. In the private sector, many doctors said they recently got themselves vaccinated. "I advise all high-risk patients, such as elderly, those suffering from chronic illnesses and immune-compromised ones, to take the preventive vaccine annually before the onset of winter to reduce morbidity and mortality risk," Dr Romel Tickoo, senior consultant medicine department at Max hospital, Saket, said.Source