A survey on influenza has been conducted Abbott, one of India's leading healthcare companies to assess the awareness, usage and attitudes towards influenza immunization.
The findings reveal that 40 percent of the surveyed population do not take flu seriously, in spite of the increasing number of cases. About 58 percent of respondents were unaware on the virus strains causing influenza and swine flu and 37 percent of pregnant females surveyed across the cities do not take a flu vaccine during pregnancy, in spite of doctor recommendation.
‘Pregnant women, young children below 5 years, older adults are at greater risk of influenza and hence need be immunized at the earliest.’
The recent National Family Health Survey shows that as many as 72.5% of children in the age group of 12 to 23 months, considered an important period in a child's development and immunity-building were not getting immunized on time.
The Abbott survey was conducted among mothers (0-6 year old kids) and pregnant women. Abbott partnered with IQVIA, a global market research and consulting firm, who surveyed 1000 consumers across 8 cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune to understand the severity of the issue. IQVIA used a combined approach of both quantitative and qualitative analysis to conduct the survey.
The results show that 66% of the surveyed population's knowledge about vaccines is limited to information shared by doctors, while 58% were found to be completely unaware of the type of virus which causes Influenza.
1. Importance of flu vaccination:
40% of mothers & parents surveyed do not take flu seriously. There is a rise in contagious issues such as flu in India, yet knowledge about vaccines is limited to information shared by the doctors.
2. Awareness towards flu:
Awareness of flu and flu-related symptoms such as cold and fever needs to improve. 66% of respondents feel that if their family doctor advises them to vaccinate against flu, they will do it.
3. Attitude towards vaccination:
Although health (of their own as well as babies) is a priority for mothers and new parents, necessary steps are not taken due to lack of information or a casual attitude. Surprisingly, 37% of pregnant females surveyed across the urban cities do not take a flu vaccine during pregnancy, in spite of doctor recommendation.
4. Perception of flu:
Perception about Influenza is limited to a simple fever (82%), body pain (71%) & cough (54%). Since mothers do not consider flu as something more than a common cold, the survey results highlight the need to stress on these symptoms and its association with flu.
Speaking on the survey, Dr. Mukesh Gupta - Gynecologist, Mumbai, says "Since flu and flu complications are more severe in pregnant women, flu shots are specifically recommended to mothers during pregnancy; even better if given before conception.
After Childbirth the 'Cocooning effect' created by all caretakers / family members being vaccinated ensures that the disease is not spread to the little ones, as they cannot be immunised by vaccines in first 6 months.
As per a recent survey results, 37% of pregnant females across the urban cities do not take a flu vaccine during pregnancy, in spite of doctor's recommendation. These numbers are serious and pregnant females should consider talking to their doctors before making any such decision.
In India, seasonal outbreaks of flu are commoner during the monsoons and then in the winter. It is advisable to be vaccinated prior to the monsoons, so that the effects last for the high risk time along with the whole year.
There are four categories of people who are considered to be at higher risk, hence strongly advised to be immunised - pregnant women, young children below the age of 5 years, elderly people, and those whose immunity is compromised because of factors such as asthma, diabetes, ischemic heart disease to name a few."
Further elaborating on the survey results, Dr. Uday Ananth Pai - Pediatrician, Mumbai, said, "In spite of the existing prevalence and documented importance of influenza immunization, uptake of flu vaccines is not too high. As we see from the survey, 40% of mothers do not take flu seriously.
Young babies over 6 months fall in the high-risk category of getting flu, and hence advice is to vaccinate them on time and annually. Children younger than 5 years are at high risk of serious influenza complications.
Influenza is a preventable illness and hence parents should consider vaccination to protect kids from flu-related discomfort. Prevention is simpler and more economical than having to undergo the anxiety of the illness and expensive treatment later."
Speaking on the survey Ambati Venu, Managing Director, Abbott India Limited says "At Abbott, we want to help people get and stay healthy, including our young children. One of the first steps people can take to prevent illness is to get vaccinated against influenza, and we hope that by shedding light on the important topic, we encourage more parents in India to talk to their doctors about whether this makes sense for them."
As per the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), of India there have been 38811 no. of flu cases and 2266 flu-related deaths during the year 2017 in India. Keeping this in mind, Abbott has initiated a "Mothers Against Influenza" campaign, raising awareness and encouraging mothers to initiate conversations with their doctors so that they are thoroughly informed about influenza, its symptoms and precautions.