Fearing the third wave of the pandemic, paediatricians in the country are advocating that people should take the influenza shots to avoid mistaking influenza-like-illness (ILI) as COVID-19 cases.
Quoting a paediatrician from a Bengaluru hospital, a media report said that by administering flu vaccines widely across the population, the number of influenza cases could be brought down. And, it would become easier to filter out the COVID-19 cases from the ILI cases that are common during the flu season.
This issue needs a lot of attention as the flu season coincides with the predicted third wave expected between September and December, said the Deccan Herald report. And, the report goes on to quote Dr Shenoy Bhaskar, head of paediatrics, Manipal Hospitals in Bengaluru, who felt that it would be a good idea to protect children from the flu season that starts in June and ends in October.
According to doctors, the influenza symptoms are similar to that of COVID-19 making it difficult to differentiate between the two at first. Some of the “overlapping symptoms” are fever, respiratory difficulty, running nose, sore throat, mild burning of the eyes, loss of taste, and pressures in the ears or sinuses. Dr Bhaskar went on to point out in the news report that just 20-30 per cent of kids take the influenza vaccine each year and that is too low, which is why paediatricians were pushing parents to get their children inoculated with an influenza shot.
However, some paediatricians plainly disagree. They felt there is an effort to make it seem as if an influenza vaccine offers some kind of protection against COVID-19 and this is clearly not true. This theory stemmed from a University of Michigan study in March that out of 13,000 people who had the flu shot, 4 per cent contracted COVID-19, while out of 14,000 who did not take the influenza shot, nearly 5 per cent tested positive for COVID.
This push to get the influenza vaccine shot seemed like a money-making enterprise, according to some paediatricians.