People with Asthma Need the Flu Shot

The American Lung Association has called for improved vaccination rates among people with asthma and other high-risk populations.

Citing dismal vaccination rates, the American Lung Association is asking for one of the largest group of chronically ill Americans to receive the vaccine each year.

Justine, 39, who has severe asthma, has gotten the flu shots in the past and said she hates how sick they make her.

“They don’t seem to help although I know when you have asthma it’s important to get them,” she said. “A nurse told me once even though it makes me sick it’s very important I keep getting them.”

Justine wasn’t able to get the shot last year because of the flu shortage but this year she plans to though she says she dreads getting sick again.

The Association strongly supports influenza immunization for people with asthma though Kacie Colley, mother of a son who has asthma, will not give her children the vaccination and stopped years ago. She said the flu shots made her kids “deathly sick” with severe allergic reactions.

Another analysis done by the agency estimated that vaccinating every child with asthma against the flu could prevent nearly 100,000 hospitalizations per year.

According to John Kirkwood, president and CEO for the Association, more than six million infants and children suffer from asthma and are recommended to receive a flu shot each year, however, nearly 90 percent do not receive an annual shot.

Of the 13.6 million adults with asthma, only 29 percent of those age 18-49 years old receive the shot and only 48 percent of adults with asthma who are ages 50-64 are immunized, said Kirkwood.

In an effort to improve vaccine rates among people with asthma, the Association has launched an awareness initiative, supported by sanofi Pasteur that includes national media efforts to reach consumers, and development of educational materials for health care providers to educate people with asthma and other high-risk groups about flu shots.

Flu infection can exacerbate asthma attacks and make those with Chronic Obstructive Respiratory Disease (COPD) and other respiratory problems ill, constricting airways and lead to persistent decline in lung function.

The study conducted by the Association among people with varying severities of asthma showed that the flu shot does not cause asthma exacerbations and is safe for people with asthma.

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