An expert group has strongly recommended vaccination against swine flu (H1N1 virus). Experts have identified three high-risk groups and stressed that the vaccine against H1N1 virus has played a role in reducing mortality among these vulnerable groups.
They have said as many as 298 swine flu deaths this year have been due to “comorbidities”.
The state government had appointed a committee of experts to study the epidemiological situation of communicable diseases in Maharashtra and recommend appropriate control measures. After a few meetings and detailed analysis of the swine flu scenario in the state, experts have said the vaccine has been highly useful.
- Over 33,000 vaccinated against H1N1 in Maharashtra
- H1N1 virus claimed 719 lives in state this year
- Maharashtra plans free swine flu vaccine for diabetic, hypertensive people
- 45-year-old woman dies of swine flu
- Swine flu deaths soar to 703, number of cases cross 11,000; Delhi govt issues helpline numbers
- Pune to get imported H1N1 vaccine by weekend
“We have not insisted that it should be compulsory. But clearly our analysis has shown that vaccination has proved effective,” Dr Subhash Salunkhe, Chairman of the Maharashtra Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Technical Committee, told The Indian Express.
The committee has also recommended the use of ‘trivalent inactivated vaccine’ vis-a-vis the ‘live attenuated’ one.
There are detailed guidelines by WHO and the Indian Academy of Paediatrics on the role of vaccination against swine flu. The immediate healthcare providers and frontline workers need to be protected and the analysis of last four years’ data on swine flu in the state shows there are as many as three high-risk groups vulnerable to swine flu.
Out of the 508 deaths due to swine flu from January to April this year, at least 59 per cent (298 patients) had “comorbidities” (two or more additional coexisting medical conditions). Apart from diabetics, hypertensive and obese patients, other high-risk groups include pregnant women and children with cardiac and other problems.
The government has to intensify the information and education campaign much before the peak season occurs during June.
“A panic-like situation should not occur and the government should conduct meetings with the Food and Drug Administration and vaccine manufacturing institutes to ensure that there is an adequate stock of vaccines against swine flu,” Salunkhe said.
There has been no mutation of the virus and hence the vaccine is effective against H1N1 virus, according to the group. The committee comprising the director of medical education and research and experts from Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur will also decide on newer strategies to deal with communicable diseases like dengue and malaria.