Wondering Why Asthmatics Should Get A Flu Shot? Read This!

flu and asthma

Asthma and influenza (flu) are two common conditions of the respiratory tract that affect millions of people worldwide. In fact, viral respiratory tract infections are the commonest cause of exacerbations of asthma. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), it is reported that upper respiratory viral infections can lead to 80% of exacerbations in children with asthma[1]. Both adults and children with asthma are at a high risk of developing pneumonia and inflammation in the respiratory system[2]. Here’s more on how flu affects people with asthma and what you should do to prevent health complications. 

Influenza And Asthma: What’s The Relation? 

As the virus can spread via respiratory droplets, there is a high risk of getting infected when a sick person coughs or sneezes. The symptoms of influenza include both systemic (fever, malaise, and headache) and respiratory (cough, rhinorrhea, and breathlessness) symptoms. 

Influenza infection can lead to severe health complications in people with asthma irrespective of their overall health. People with lung conditions such as asthma, have a build-up of fluid in the lungs. When a viral infection occurs, such as influenza, bacteria and viruses penetrate deep into the lungs and multiply more easily. This makes it more likely for other infections, such as pneumonia, to develop[4]. Moreover, influenza can weaken the immune system and allow the infection to spread. It can also cause long term damage of the lungs and increase the risk of other respiratory infections such as sinus, and pneumonia[2,3]. 

How To Stay Protected? 

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to dealing with the flu. In India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), recommends annual vaccination for people with chronic illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchial asthma, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, blood disorders, cancer and for those who are immunocompromised. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends it for all individuals especially pregnant women, children, and the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. 

Individuals with chronic pulmonary disease, including asthma should receive flu vaccine to lower the risk of influenza-related mortality and decrease transmission of the virus. Influenza vaccination in asthmatics may help in reducing influenza infection as well as asthma attacks[5]. 

Ask your doctor to know more about influenza vaccination today! 


1. Johnston SL, Pattemore PK, Sanderson G, Smith S, Lampe F, Josephs L, Symington P, O’Toole S, Myint SH, Tyrrell DA, et al. Community study of role of viral infections in exacerbations of asthma in 9-11 year old children. BMJ. 1995 May 13;310(6989):1225-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2549614/ 

2. Flu and People with Asthma. Who is at High Risk for Flu Complications. Seasonal Influenza (Flu). The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/asthma.htm 

3. Veerapandian R, Snyder JD, Samarasinghe AE. Influenza in Asthmatics: For Better or for Worse? Front Immunol. 2018 Aug 10;9:1843. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6095982/ 

4. Musher DM et al. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 4th Edition Churchill Livingstone. 1995; 1811-1826. 

5. 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/ 

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: Nov 19, 2019 16:45:25 IST

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