- 77% of respondents opted to take a flu vaccine in 2020 with 12% of those receiving the vaccine for the first time.
- High uptake of the flu vaccine in 2020 due to COVID-19 looks to be replicated this year with 83% of respondents saying that they intend to get vaccinated this winter.
- The HSE advises that all people with moderate to severe asthma should ensure that they get their vaccine.
- 50% of those surveyed intend to speak with their GP or respiratory specialist for further information about the flu vaccine and staying well this flu season.
Results of a recently conducted Asthma Society survey revealed that 77% of respondents availed of the flu vaccine in 2020 with 12% of those receiving the vaccine for the first time. The high uptake of the flu vaccine seen in 2020 due to the threat of COVID-19 looks likely to be replicated this year with 83% of respondents saying that they intend to get the flu vaccine this winter.
The survey, conducted this month amongst 1,602 people with asthma and their carers by the Asthma Society of Ireland, was supported by Sanofi and aims to highlight the importance of protecting yourself and your loved ones with asthma from flu this year. The HSE advises that all people with moderate to severe asthma should ensure that they get their vaccine.
Of those surveyed, 9% have been diagnosed with severe asthma with 29% and 28% with moderate and mild asthma respectively. A large majority said they would get a flu vaccine as they are very concerned about protecting themselves (74%) and family members (35%) against contracting flu this winter. 40% of respondents said they would vaccinate to avoid prompting an asthma attack.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT THE FLU VACCINE AND ASTHMA
- Flu can be an asthma trigger – it can cause your symptoms to flare
- People with moderate to severe asthma are at higher risk of flu-related complications.
- You can lower your risk of flu infection by getting vaccinated every year.
- The flu vaccine helps your body to produce proteins that fight infection. The flu vaccine starts to work within 2 weeks.
- If you have moderate to severe asthma, you can get the flu vaccine for FREE. Check HSE.ie to find out where to get your FREE flu vaccine.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society is encouraging those with asthma or with family members with asthma to get the flu vaccine saying,
“It’s great to see such a positive response to vaccine uptake. It is so important to take extra precautions this time of year, and we know that colds and flu, along with respiratory infections, can be triggers for many people with asthma.
While it’s impossible to completely rule out the possibility of catching a virus, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the flu and reduce your risk of getting sick.
Make sure your asthma is well under control before the flu season begins. It is heartening that 50% of those surveyed intend to speak with their GP or respiratory specialist this year. We would encourage all asthma patients to speak to your doctor or asthma nurse specialist about getting the flu vaccine. You can also contact our free Asthma Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 and WhatsApp messaging services on 086 059 0132 where our nurses are available to answer any questions that you may have.”
Dr Dermot Nolan, GP, former ICGP National Clinical Lead on Asthma and member of the Asthma Society Medical Advisory Group says,
“As we enter into flu season there are several things you can do to help minimise your chances of being infected with the flu virus or, if you do catch the virus, stop it spreading to others around you.
The same precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can be applied with flu. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw away the tissue and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. Try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose, especially after coming into contact with an ill person. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser can also minimise the spread as well as regularly cleaning hard surfaces such as your phone, keyboard and door handles.”
Speaking about her own experiences with asthma, Rachel Murray, Severe Asthma Patient and Asthma Advocate encourages others to get the flu vaccine this year saying,
“Getting sick with flu can be extremely debilitating and can cause your asthma symptoms to flare. People with moderate to severe asthma are at a higher risk of flu-related complications, but can protect themselves by booking in for their free flu vaccination which helps your body produce proteins to fight infection and keep you well this winter.”
For further information, or if you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, talk to your GP. You can also free call the Asthma Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 or send a WhatsApp message to 086 059 0132 to speak to one of our asthma nurses in complete confidence.
For a detailed list of the groups at risk and more information on the flu vaccine, visit www.immunisation.ie.
For more information on the Asthma Society and the patient support services available, visit www.asthma.ie.