Abbott’s “Mothers Against Influenza” initiative
Influenza is a more serious disease than one often realises. Children are at a high risk of developing influenza-associated complications. In India, seasonal influenza epidemics occur during the rainy season months, from June to August in Northern India and from October to December in Southern India, including Tamil Nadu. Peak influenza activity is associated with significant morbidity and mortality; one study found that influenza accounted for 20-42% of monthly acute medical illness hospitalizations during the rainy season and Abbott initiated “Mothers Against Influenza”, an awareness drive.
Dr. Priya Chandrasekhar, Consultant at Apollo Children’s Hospitals observed, “Children are disproportionately affected by influenza. Infection rates among children are generally the highest of any age group during typical influenza seasons, averaging 25%–43%. In a review of annual epidemics, it was demonstrated that influenza-attack rates reached 30% in pre-school and school-aged children. Vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza. If at least 50% of children are vaccinated, then the epidemic can be contained and the burden reduced. The best time to get vaccinated is before the monsoon, in August in Tamil Nadu.”
“Vaccination remains the most effective method of preventing influenza . The National Center of Disease Control estimates that influenza cases have increased 5-fold in India from 5,044 in 2012 to 26,366 in 2019 alone (till July 2019). Correspondingly, the number of deaths attributable to influenza has more than doubled from 405 in 2012 to 1,072 in 2019. In Tamil Nadu, influenza cases have grown at a rate of 24% per annum from 2012 to 2018.,” commented Dr. Srirupa Das, Medical Director, Abbott.
Dr. Abraham Palache, Global expert in Influenza vaccinology and Founder of Flu Pal consultancy BV, elaborated on this community benefit, “Research shows that vaccination has a ‘herd-immunity’ benefit: high level of vaccination rates in children not only protect those who are vaccinated, but also protect non-vaccinated (pre-school) children and adults in their environment. It’s important to remember that we come in contact with the elderly, children, parents of children and pregnant women on a daily basis, all of whom could be put at risk of getting the flu virus from us. Getting yourself and your family vaccinated before influenza season is beneficial not only for you, but for the entire community.”