If you have asthma, then it goes without saying that you need to be extra vigilant, especially during flu season. Flu can worsen asthma symptoms, trigger asthma attacks, and in some cases, seriously damage the lungs. These sudden flares of asthma can be prevented by the simple flu vaccine. Asthmatic patients should therefore make it a point to go for annual flu shots.
What you should know about the flu shot
Flu shots don’t worsen asthma
It is a common misconception among people that flu vaccine makes you sick or exacerbates your asthma symptoms. Numerous studies  have proved that the vaccination is quite safe to use. Flu shots reduce the risk of pneumonia, asthma exacerbations, doctor visits, hospitalization, and deaths. It has been reported that the influenza vaccine prevented 59%–78% of asthma attacks responsible for emergency visits and/or hospitalizations.
Injectable vaccine is better than spray one
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India recommends influenza vaccination for people with chronic illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchial asthma, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, blood disorders, diabetes, cancer and those who are immuno-compromised.
When it comes to flu vaccine, there are two options available – flu shot and nasal spray. The flu shot is an injectable one which contains the dead influenza virus. It is recommended in adults and kids above 6 months of age. The nasal spray, on the other hand, is the one which is sprayed into the nose. It contains the live virus (which is weak) and may lead to flu-like symptoms. However, there are many restrictions on its use and is not commonly available in India. This is why the flu shot is considered safe for a larger section of people as compared to the nasal spray.
Take pneumococcal vaccine along with flu shot
Asthma is a respiratory infection which can increase the risk of other respiratory conditions. Pneumococcal pneumonia is one such serious health complication caused due to flu which can also lead to death if left untreated. This is why people with asthma are advised to take pneumococcal vaccine to prevent diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, and other infections.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone who is 6 months and older. In addition to taking asthma medications on time, it is important to avoid triggers and devise an action plan to prevent asthma flares in the long run. The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine can vary from year to year, among different age and risk groups, by vaccine type, and even by virus type and subtype. Ask your doctor to know more about influenza vaccination today!
1. Flu and People with Asthma. Who is at High Risk for Flu Complications. Seasonal Influenza (Flu). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/asthma.htm
2. Keenan H, Campbell J, Evans PH. Influenza vaccination in patients with asthma: why is the uptake so low? Br J Gen Pract. 2007 May;57(538):359-63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2047009/
3. Vasileiou E, Sheikh A, Butler C, et al. Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccines in Asthma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Oct 15;65(8):1388-1395. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5850022/
4. Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine [LAIV] (The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine). Different Flu Vaccines. Prevent Flu. Seasonal Influenza (Flu). https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/nasalspray.htm
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent and unbiased views solely of the publisher. This is a part of the public awareness initiative on influenza supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of this article. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.
Updated Date: Sep 30, 2019 18:45:25 IST