Srinagar: With swine flu scare looming over Kashmir valley after three deaths, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Tuesday sought free vaccination against swine flu for high risk groups like young children, senior citizens, pregnant women and persons with medical conditions.
President DAK and flu expert, Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement issued here said that free vaccination would increase vaccine uptake and protect these vulnerable individuals from contracting and dying from flu.
“While flu vaccination is recommended for all, it is especially important for high risk groups who are vulnerable for complications, hospitalization and death,” he said.
DAK President said that “most of our population is unvaccinated and cost is the barrier. One flu vaccine costs Rs 900. High cost of vaccine keeps them out of reach for people.”
He said unprotected individuals not only risk themselves, but they put the health of whole community at risk.
Dr Nisar cautioned swine flu virus has undergone a change and it is likely to infect more people.
“We can’t predict how it will behave and what will happen in coming days,” he added.
He said this year’s vaccine has been updated to protect against the mutated swine flu strain. “Vaccination is the only defense to protect oneself and people around you from getting flu,” he said.
Dr Nisar said the benefits of flu vaccine go beyond warding off respiratory-related problems.
He said flu vaccine reduces one’s risk for heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who receive flu shots are 55% less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.
“We have one more good reason to have flu shot. We have a vaccine against heart attacks and strokes that are responsible for majority of deaths in our community,” he said.