It seems that the state government has failed to learn lessons from last year’s swine flu outbreak. Winter is approaching, but no proper arrangements for vaccination have been made so far in Valley hospitals.
During the previous flu season, the health authorities in Kashmir ignored the flu outbreak alert, which resulted in the spread of the disease and loss of nearly two dozen lives in Kashmir.
The Union Health Ministry issued an advisory last week, directing that vaccination should be given to four to five vulnerable groups to prevent H1N1 epidemic in the coming months in Jammu and Kashmir. However, no steps had been taken till now.
The influenza vaccine, which is trivalent in nature, gives protection not only against H1N1, but also against H3N2 and influenza B, the three vaccines prevalent this year.
Sources from Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) said they had cautioned the Health Department about the possible outbreak of H1N1 if precautionary measures like vaccination were not taken.
“Kashmir can see another outbreak of H1N1 if measures are not taken on time,” said an official. The official said it was high time to start vaccination and make people aware of swine flu to prevent last year’s panic-like situation in the coming winter months in Kashmir.
In February last year, the swine flu outbreak proved bad in the state. Around two dozen persons died of the virus and 500 tested positive.
Kashmir region remained the worst hit as the health authorities in the winter capital were not prepared to combat the pandemic.
The Doctors Association Kashmir cautioned the public against possible swine flu outbreak in the Kashmir valley in view of recent rise in the number of H1N1 cases in Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
SKIMS Director Showkat Zargar said they had proposed a supply of vaccines and would get it soon. “We have prior arrangements. We have old supply of vaccines and have ordered the new supply which we are yet to get. We have a functioning testing laboratory,” he said.