Pune: Officials of the State health department have confirmed that there are changes found in swine flu virus, which has resulted in the change in vaccination to be administered to people who are in the high-risk group. Last year, the State government had directed the use of bivalent vaccine for swine flu, however, this year it has been changed to trivalent vaccine.
Speaking about the vaccine, Dr MS Diggikar, Joint Director (Health), Maharashtra, informed that the number of casualties due to swine flu so far in the State has been less than 10 since January 1. “However, to keep check on number of deaths and to take precautionary measures, vaccination to prevent H1N1 is made available at all government hospitals and is available through prescription,” said Diggikar. He said high-risk patients are those who have low immunity.
“Broadly, patients with a medical condition such as hypertension, heart disease, liver disease and diabetes constitute high-risk patients,” Diggikar said.
“Senior citizens, children under five years and pregnant women also constitute this group (high-risk) as their immunity is low. From the data we have from previous years, it is evident that high-risk patients are affected more with swine flu and hence these vaccines are made available for them,” said Diggikar.
“Last year, the bivalent vaccines were made available at all government facilities for swine flu. This year, considering some changes found in swine flu virus, the trivalent vaccines would be used instead of bivalent,” he mentioned.
He also highlighted that the decision was taken as per the guidelines from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
“A tender process is currently initiated once the vaccine is finalised for its manufacturing. For this year, around 1.25 lakh vaccines are available for high-risk patients who are more prone to swine flu. Out of this, 40,000 vaccines have already been used for patients across the State,” informed Dr Diggikar.
Changing every year
- The H1N1 virus has been found to be changing certain characteristics related to its toxicity every year.
- Considering the changes seen in the swine flu virus, administering the same vaccine, which was given last year for prevention in the high-risk group of patients would not serve the purpose.
- The analysis of this virus is done by Pune-based National Institute of Virology.