People with Asthma Are at Higher Risk of Complications from Flu

Influenza (flu) can be more serious for people with asthma, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well-controlled by medication. This is because people with asthma have swollen and sensitive airways and influenza can cause further inflammation of the airways and lungs. Influenza infection in the lungs can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms. It also can lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases.

Everyone with asthma who is six months and older should get a flu vaccine to protect against getting the flu.

Vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against influenza. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations including doctors’ offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, college health centers and increasingly by a number of employers and public schools.

Which flu vaccine should people with asthma get?

Flu shots (made with inactivated (killed) flu virus) are approved for use in people 6 months and older regardless of whether or not they have asthma or other health conditions. The flu shot has a long established safety record in people with asthma.

Nasal spray vaccine: While the nasal spray vaccine is approved for use in people 2 through 49 years of age, children 2 years through 4 years who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months should not get the nasal spray vaccine. People of any age with asthma might be at increased risk for wheezing after getting the nasal spray flu vaccine. Also, the safety of the nasal spray flu vaccine in people with lung disease and some other high risk conditions has not been established.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of flu:

Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care. Stay away from other people who are sick.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder not your bare hands;

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing; avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

If you do get sick with flu symptoms, call your primary care doctor and take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them.

Please call to schedule your asthma check-up appointment. We are happy to help you develop your Asthma Action Plan in preparation for the flu season.

Download November 2014 Newsletter