To Avoid ‘Twindemic’, Demand For Flu Shots Surge In Kashmir

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by Hirra Azmat

SRINAGAR: Come to the autumnal equinox and gradual decrease in temperature season of the year, it is followed by sniffling, sneezing, coughing and fatigue. The conditions identified with all the familiar trappings of the flu. Continuing its effects as fall enters through the winter months till early spring, the severity of the infection varies.

A file photo of doctor give flu vaccination shot to a patient.

Concerned over the crisis, October emerges as the prime time for flu vaccinations. But this year, the trend to opt for a flu vaccination, precisely known as flu shot has increased tremendously. Call it a Covid-19 effect, the stakeholders reveal that the overall sale of the flu shot has doubled up this year.

Experts suggest the increasing trend is to avoid a “twindemic” with the current pandemic. “The increase in the sales of the vaccine is due to the reason that people seek to avoid dreaded overlap of flu and coronavirus,” said Dr Shakeel, a senior medical health officer.

As per the rough estimates, this year, a record number of doses have been consumed in Kashmir. If only two major brands available in the market are taken into account, a total of 59,000 flu shot vaccines, FluQuadri produced by Sanofi Pasteur and Influvac Tetra by Abbott, have been sold in Kashmir so far.

Terming the sale of this year more than double, a pharmaceutical distributor told Kashmir Life that “we have sold approximately 40,000 vaccine doses of Influvac Tetra this season compared to last year when the number stood at 15,000,” Wishing not to be named, he said he has crossed over the sales of five crore rupees so far. Pertinent to mention, a single shot of  Influvac Tetra is priced at Rs 1, 539

Priced at Rs 1680, the sales of Flu Quari vaccines has also doubled up this year. “The number of FluQuadri vaccine doses sold this season has shot up as compared to last year. This year the company made a business of around 3 crore rupees by selling approximately 19,000 vaccine doses whereas only 9,000 were sold in autumn 2019,” said the medical supplier, requesting not to be named.

Aimed to provide some sort of immunity during the cold season, Flu vaccine shots are touted to act as a preventive shield against the soaring viral infection and decrease the risk of developing other respiratory problems like H1N1 and pneumonia, which could aggravate a person’s risk of getting Covid-19.

Talking about the increased sales, the President Kashmir Medical Representatives Association Mohammad Arif Bhat said the demand for the vaccine doses for the coming flu season has soared up, the main reason being the current pandemic.

“The percentage of sold-out vaccine doses is much greater than the previous year. Widespread flu vaccination could help free up hospital beds, a vital public health measure to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Terming cost as the barrier, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) urged health authorities to provide vaccine free of cost to the poor and marginalized.

As the nature of the virus is to mutate, experts insist to get vaccinated every year for proper protection. “Flu shots are always important, but they’re even more important this year, particularly the vulnerable groups,” said Dr Shakeel.

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