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Can the flu shot protect your child against Covid-19? A paediatrician weighs in

Published on:4 July 2021, 11:00am IST
Getting your child vaccinated with a flu shot may reduce their risk of getting infected with Coronavirus, according to a doctor.
Dr Vikas Satwik
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Can you use the flu vaccine to protect your children from Coronavirus? A doctor sheds light on the topic. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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With the third wave of Coronavirus right around the corner and the second wave just getting over, there are a lot of dos and don’ts. Kids below the age of eighteen are not eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine as its side effects are still unknown. However, one question that has been repeatedly asked is whether children should go for the flu shot (influenza shot) with the pandemic still around?

The answer to this question is a simple yes! Parents should ensure that their child gets a flu shot this season.

The flu vaccine for children

Doctors are of the opinion that it is important for children to get a flu shot. Flu shots or influenza shots have been known to decrease the severity of illness, hospitalization cases and deaths from the flu. It can protect a large part of the population from getting infected.

prevent kids from covid-19
It is important to be cautious. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Flu season in India usually coincides with the monsoon season. The mortality rate of influenza is one per cent usually but during Covid-19, it is said to be 0.1 per cent.

Flu vaccine and the Covid-19 vaccine

The flu shot is very different from the Covid-19 vaccine. Both these vaccines serve different purposes. However, data showed that the flu vaccine may have a protective effect on the course of Covid-19 infection and symptoms in children. Children are less likely to develop symptomatic and severe infections if they receive seasonal influenza vaccination in the current flu season.

Why is it necessary to take the flu vaccine this season? 

Chaos can already be anticipated in the flu season due to the coexistence of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza with almost similar epidemiologic and clinical features. This situation is called a “twindemic” or “syndemic”.

Now, it is a known fact that the growth of one virus can be inhibited by the previous infection or vaccination with another (related or unrelated) virus in the same host through mediators like interferons and others. The phenomenon is called virus interference.

yoga for kids
Your kids must befriend yoga. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Data suggests that the flu vaccine, through “viral interference”, may keep you protected from the flu and also trigger a general immune response. This means that someone vaccinated with the flu shot may be less likely to contract Coronavirus.

The flu shot is safe for children as it is tested very extensively by experts and even if one has any after-effects, they would generally be very mild. Experiencing mild fever or any other effects will simply mean that the vaccine is working and will keep the body protected against the flu. 

A flu vaccine is a safe option for children till the Covid-19 vaccine is approved for children below the age of eighteen. The flu shot is an effective tool that will keep your child safe from the flu and reduce their vulnerability to Coronavirus. 

With the third wave around the corner, health experts are actively trying to raise awareness amongst parents about the flu shot for their children below the age of eighteen. It can, after all, ensure that the young ones stay protected against Covid-19 to a certain extent. Parents should not be passive in getting their children vaccinated. 

Getting the young ones vaccinated can actually lead to a reduction in the load and pressure on the healthcare system. So, protect your children from Coronavirus and reduce the pressure on the national healthcare system with a simple flu shot!

Dr Vikas Satwik Dr Vikas Satwik

Dr Vikas Satwik, Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore