New Delhi: With swine flu killing 736 people across the country and infecting over 15,121, the Union health ministry has on Tuesday advised vaccination for vulnerable people.
Last month, the ministry had issued guidelines for influenza vaccination for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and persons with compromised immunity due to other diseases and has asked state governments and union territories to evolve a plan for vaccinating health care workers and persons at higher risk on yearly basis depending upon the public health burden of influenza.
“Swine flu cases are going upward this year in comparison to last year and it is a reason of concern. This year, only Michigan strain of H1N1 is circulating. During 2016, the California strain and Michigan strain both were circulating in India, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS) at Union health ministry, told Mint.
“We have issued an advisory that vulnerable groups such as diabetics, cardiac patients, those having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), HIV, pregnant women, children and elderly etc should get vaccinated for prevention from the disease," he said.
Many states have reported swine flu cases, topped by Maharashtra (3450), followed by Tamil Nadu (2935), Karnataka (2732), Telangana (1474), Kerala (1285), Gujarat (549) and Delhi (517). Maximum deaths were in Maharashtra (358) followed by Gujarat (107), Kerala (70) and Rajasthan (59).
For 2017-18, in line with World Health Organization guidelines, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended Seasonal Influenza Trivalent inactivated vaccine according to the strain. This vaccine is expected to offer good effectiveness against currently circulating subtypes of influenza. It also has the approval of Drug Controller General India, Dr Prasad said.
According to the health ministry, in India, available information suggests that in the post-pandemic period (2012-15) seasonal influenza has affected persons across age groups. Analysis of mortality of laboratory confirmed cases suggest that about 50% of those affected had co-morbid conditions (other medical conditions along with swine flu).
WHO also recommends vaccination of high-risk groups. Vaccination is an important tool to prevent infection and severe outcomes caused by influenza viruses, the apex health body has said. Over the years, evidence has been established through research globally on the protection provided by Seasonal Influenza Vaccine, in particular for those at higher risk. It helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies up to six months and among vaccinated, reduction in influenza related hospitalizations across all age groups is expected, WHO says.