Swine flu vaccine: How to prevent swine flu
02 Mar, 2015

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Swine flu has gripped our nation and with so many people succumbing to the ailment, the common question that is doing the rounds is about the vaccine against this virus. In this post we answer all your questions regarding the same.

What is the swine flu vaccine?

The swine flu vaccine also known as the tetravalent flu vaccine or the trivalent flu vaccine. According to Dr KK Agarwal, Secretary of the IMA, the vaccine is made by various companies and has a number of brand names. One of the most common vaccines used is vaccigrip — a vaccine made for a three types of flu viruses including the H1N1 virus. The swine flu vaccine that is being currently administered is for the 2014 strain of the H1N1 virus.

Dr Akshay Chhallani, Chief of ICU and Physician, Wockhardt Hospitals, Vashi, says, ‘There are two types of vaccines a nasal spray and the injectible variant of the same vaccine. In my practice the nasal spray is more commonly used because it is painless, made of live attenuated virus which certain studies have shown are more effective and above all is simple to use.’ ‘Both these vaccines take about 15 days to become effective and must be administered by a physician.’ He adds. You may also like to read about the signs and symptoms of swine flu.

Who should take it?

Dr Akshay Chhallani says, ‘ What everyone needs to remember is that every year the vaccine is changed as per the new strain of the flu virus. Therefore it is advisable that people who at high risk of suffering from the infection should get this injection between June and July. This vaccine provides them with immunity for a year. ‘ That being said, the vaccine should be administered to people with respiratory ailments, young children, pregnant women and old people. It is especially important for healthcare workers and those in close contact with people suffering from the infection.

'In the case of children, it is recommended that they have two doses one month apart. While this is the standard protocol of administration of the vaccine for children, it can vary depending on the child’s medical history. ' Adds Dr Challani.

Who should not take the vaccine and why is the general advised against it?

In a recent press release the government has said that only healthcare workers and people at higher risk of contracting the infection should take the vaccine. The mandate eliminates the need for the general population to be administered this vaccine. In that regard, Dr KK Agarwal, Secretary of the IMA, says, ‘The government has mandated that the vaccine be only used for healthcare workers as it in short supply. Moreover the vaccine takes 15 days to start working and currently the view taken is that the priority should be given to healthcare workers and it is not necessary for the general population. That is because the vaccine takes about 3-4 weeks to act, by the time the epidemic will be over.’ (Read: 15 precautions every Indian should take to prevent swine flu)

Dr Arvind Aggarwal adds, ‘ These vaccines are for common flu and not specifically for swine flu. There are a lot of varieties of viruses and they keep changes every year. A common vaccine used is vaccigrip which is prescribed for common flu. And every year these vaccines are developed according to the strains in the local year. so therefore it does not provide immunity against swine flu per se but against the common flu.’ Here are some expert tips on how you can prevent contracting swine flu.

Are there any side effects of the vaccine?

According to Dr Challani, 'Normally there are no side -effects, but yes, one in 10 lakh people do suffer from a complication of the injectible vaccine called GBS (Guillain-Barré Syndrome). This is extremely rare, but is a documented possibility.'

Apart from that Dr Arvind Aggarwal says that the vaccine is prepared in an egg and so people who are allergic to the components of eggs can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

It is now found that even healthy people suffer from the infection. Why?

Dr Challani says, 'Yes, this a new trend that we are seeing off-late and it is believed that this might be due to a genetic mutation in the strain of the virus. Apart from that, a seemingly healthy person might have an ailment that makes them susceptible to the virus. Considering all these factors it is best people use methods to prevent against the disease.'

What can people do to stay safe from the disease?

Dr Arvind Aggarwal says, 'Some of the most easy things people can do to prevent the onset of swine flu is to stay away from people exhibiting flu like symptoms, avoid crowded places such as wedding, market places, public transport etc. and wear the N95 mask.'

Monday, February 02, 2015. Source: The Health Site

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