Imphal: India is currently witnessing a significant rise in influenza infection across the country. According to the integrated health information platform, India has seen a large number of cases of acute respiratory illness or influenza-like illness from January to March this year, amounting to nearly one million. Northeast India recorded a 7% positivity rate of the samples tested. As seasonal influenza poses a public health concern, it is important to take measures to address India’s flu burden. With the aim to raise awareness about influenza prevention, global healthcare leader Abbott is spearheading information to educate people on how to protect themselves, their families, and the community against infection.
Dr. Raja Dhar, Director and Head of Department of Pulmonology, The Calcutta Medical Research Institute, said, “The flu cases have been rapidly rising across Northeast regions of the country this season. Majority of infections this season are caused by the H3N2 subtype. It is extremely important for people to take preventive steps to not only safeguard themselves and stay healthy, but also protect the wider community. Influenza is a vaccine-preventable disease, and taking an annual flu shot based on the updated WHO recommendations on the currently circulating virus strain is a safe and effective public health measure that more people should adopt.”
Seasonal influenza, or the flu, is an acute respiratory infection caused by various types of influenza viruses, of which types A (including subtypes H1N1, H3N2 and more) and B cause the most cases during the flu season. As the flu is a vaccine-preventable disease, influenza vaccination is one of the most effective preventive strategies to maintain immunity for a long duration. Dr. Jejoe Karankumar, Director, Medical Affairs, Abbott India said, “Due to low awareness about the seriousness of the flu, and misconceptions about the vaccination, it is often overlooked. At Abbott, we are committed to helping people in India stay healthy.”
Influenza affects people of all ages. However, certain groups including children under 5 years of age, the elderly (above 65 years of age), pregnant women, people with comorbidities (like diabetes, kidney, heart, or liver diseases, asthma) and immunocompromised individuals are at a higher risk of complications. This makes it increasingly important for people to avoid influenza by taking preventive steps to stay healthy.
With more people taking the flu vaccine, which has been proven to be safe and effective, it helps promote layered protection so that everyone, especially including at-risk individuals in the community, can live healthier lives. Influenza vaccination can also prevent 70 to 90% of influenza-specific illness among healthy adults. Flu vaccination lowers the economic burden of the infection on society by reducing hospitalizations and with lower absentee rates at work.