Neha Dhupia shares how she guards her children from seasonal infections

Neha Dhupia shares how she guards her children from seasonal infections

Actor and mother of two, Neha Dhupia, is a worried soul with her elder child starting school. “I am not just a mother of two. Right now, I am a worried mother of two because there is just so much in the air. First we address the elephant in the room, which is Covid-19, and now that those numbers are dipping, there is also flu and common cough and cold,” she said.

Aged three-and-a-half years and six months, her children are at the age when they are prone to falling sick often and pass the infection on to the adults in the home as well. With the flu season approaching, her worries are only becoming more intense.

In the latest session of HT Spotlight titled “VaxTalk: Getting your child summer ready”, Dhupia delves into a topic that is top of mind for most parents today – how do I keep my child safe from infections this summer.

And, to answer her questions is renowned pediatrician Dr Pramod Jog, Former President of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics and Professor of Pediatrics at the DY Patil Medical College, Pune. Dr Jog practices at Jog Children Clinic, Medipoint and Jupiter Hospital, Pune.

The doctor started out by telling her that 8-10 viral infections are healthy for children as they help build some antibodies. But, if the infection becomes severe, and fever persists beyond 5 days, a doctor must be consulted at the earliest.

This summer, the World Health Organization (WHO) has let out a warning that the cases of influenza may be on the rise. The latest WHO influenza update from April 2022 has reported an increase in influenza activity since February this year globally as also in India. Children and the elderly are more at risk of developing a severe infection and must be protected, the first step towards which is taking the annual flu shot.

A flu can cause fever, headache, body ache, among many other symptoms and all children must be protected. Another important reason is that this disease affects children who are in the preschool age group and the school age group, roughly between six months and eight years.

An influenza infection can prove to be serious for children as it can complicate into a serious case of pneumonia. The influenza virus has an annual attack rate of more than 40 per cent on preschool age children and more than 30 per cent on school age children during outbreaks and leads to increased visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations and up to a 20-30 per cent increase in antibiotic consumption.

“All these kids are extremely prone to getting flu and remember flu risk transmitted from the children to the adults. While Covid-19 we have seen is that it is transmitted from adults to children. So, if we protect children, others in the family will also be protected,” he further explained.

Since the last two years, influenza activity had remained low in comparison to pre-Covid times. Low levels of immunity within the population, driven by factors around COVID-19, could cause a major surge in influenza infections. Dhupia’s advice here is to take the shot before you catch an infection.

“Monsoon is the time when infections peak so the best time to take the flu shot is now. Every child at the age of six months from birth receives the flu vaccine. After a month, the second shot is given. Thereafter, take one every year as the immunity wanes and the constitution of the vaccine changes as per the nature of the virus to include new strains,” said Dr Jog.

Dhupia asked Dr Jog for precautions to be followed while taking the flu shot. “If a child has a minor cold, that is not at all a contraindication and that is not a reason why you should not give the flu vaccine,” he said.

On being asked about Dhupia’s views on vaccination and whether she follows a vaccination routine for her children, the actor said: “I think it is very important for everyone’s wellbeing. My little one has had a runny nose for the past two weeks and it is so tough to see him like that. What we can do as responsible parents is to take the flu shots and other vaccinations on time.”

“I’m a mother two times over and I feel like being a mother for the first time teaches you to be extremely cautious. I am very regimented about everything for both my children from the feeds to how many times the child has passed urine in the early months. These are simple measures that you can take at home,” she further said.

For those planning to take the Covid-19 booster shot, like Dhupia, there is no medically stipulated gap between the two shots. “Scientifically, they can be taken together. But, I would recommend a gap of two weeks between the two so you can recover from the discomfort and possible reactions from one and then take the second one,” Dr Jog advised Dhupia.

Experts predict that we may be in for a difficult year when it comes to the flu. This increase is being attributed to many factors. Firstly, the measures people took to safeguard themselves against Covid – like wearing masks, limiting social gatherings to small groups, and trying to move outdoors, where the spread of respiratory viruses is harder – helped in limiting flu activity too.

As children go back to school, Dhupia wanted to know what are the precautions that parents and teachers can take to keep kids who go to school safe from falling sick.

“Parents and the teachers must remember that they are the role models for children. So when you send the child to school, it is important that they first get themselves vaccinated. Flu is a family vaccination. Immunization should be seen as a passport for health. If children have a

fever, cough or cold, keep them at home. Once children reach school, there should be screening at the entrance of the school for temperature and those with fever should be sent back,” said Dr Jog.

“Children should sit at a distance of at least three feet from each other and after the lunch break or after they go to the washroom they must use the hand sanitizers. Even during the lunch time children should try and you know sit little away from each other. Everyone who comes into contact with children including teachers must be immunised,” he further added.


All the comments, views or opinions expressed herein are the independent views of the doctor.



Vijay Singh

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