“Influenza flu is under-reported, underdiagnosed and eventually, goes untreated. There is no data in place. We interviewed people in the form of a questionnaire and about 1,000 people from eight cities in the country, namely Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune participated,” said Dr Uday A Pai, Paediatrician, Past president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, Mumbai who conducted the survey.
Dr Pai added “Despite the existing prevalence of influenza and documented importance of vaccination; the uptake of its vaccine is poor in India compared to other countries. Vaccine uptake in India is dismal even among the high risk population including healthcare workers, people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetics, and pregnant women.”
Given that pregnant women and mothers do not pay so much attention to ‘flu’ as a serious disease, Dr Mukhesh Gupta, Managing Director of Le Nest Care, who also analysed the survey results said, “There is no doubt that immunisation does really help patients. But through this survey, we are aiming at primary prevention.”
Primary prevention aims at creating awareness to caregivers as well as patients who can then help the rest. “We as different associations are putting out information so as to reach the unreached. We are working towards addressing these various immunisation issues by working on challenges and setting up guidelines,” added Dr Gupta.
Here are the results from the survey:
- In spite of the increasing cases of flu each year in India, 40% mothers and parents still do not take flu seriously.
- Perception about influenza is limited to a simple fever (82%), body pain (71%) and cough (54%).
- 58% consumers are unaware about influenza and swine flu/H1N1 being same.
- Doctors rarely recommends influenza vaccines to adults, in only 23% pregnant females it is currently recommended.
- Overall when doctors recommend flu vaccine, limited knowledge is shared on the need, especially points on hospitalisation, serious implications etc. are shared only with 24% of cases.
- 37% of pregnant females across the urban cities do not take a flu vaccine during pregnancy, in spite of doctor recommendation.
- 66% of respondents feel that if their family doctor advises them to vaccinate against flu, they will do it.