Srinagar, Oct 13: Amid the COVID-19 times the demand for flu vaccines in Kashmir has increased manifolds as the doctors and experts have advised people to get vaccinated. But the cost factor of the influenza vaccines is bothering everyone.
According to the details available with Precious Kashmir the quadrivalent influenza vaccine which doctors have advised costs anything between Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 per dose and many families are finding it hard to afford it. “I am aware of the fact that I have to get myself and other family members vaccinated. We are six in a family and we will have to approximately spend Rs 9000/ on these vaccines. Somehow I will have to arrange the money and get these vaccines done,” said Farooq Ahmed of Karan Nagar.
It may be recalled that last month president of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan had urged health authorities in Kashmir to provide free flu vaccine to poor people.
“That would increase vaccine uptake and save lives,” Dr Nisar had said.
“Poor are not getting vaccinated against the flu and cost is the barrier. One flu vaccine costs Rs 1680. High cost of the vaccine keeps it out of reach for poor people,” he had said.
Irshad Ahmed, who owns a medical shop, at Rawalpora in city outskirts said, “Compared to last year this time people are coming forward in large numbers. Demand for the flu vaccine shots is high. Despite these vaccines being expensive people are buying it.”
Ahmed said, “During winters cold and cough are common problems in Kashmir but due to COVID-19 people are scared and they don’t want to take any chances.”
He said, “No one knows how the virus will behave during the winters and everyone is scared. People don’t want to take any chances.”
Ayaz Ahmed of Karan Nagar said that the variation in rates of the influenza vaccine has created confusion. “The government should come up with a notification and fix the price of these flu shots so that people are not taken for a ride,” Ahmed added.
A medical shop owner said that they are selling the vaccines at the MRP which is clearly mentioned on the boxes of these vaccines. “We can understand that everyone cannot afford it. The government should come up with a scheme for the poor people and the flu shots should be provided free to the ones who are unable to pay. This vaccine can act as a shield against the virus especially in winter season,” he said, adding, “I feel very sad when I see people not buying these vaccines due to its high cost. The government needs to intervene.”