Time for peo­ple to pro­tect against flu

Harefield Gazette - - YOUR SAY -

AS we move into ‘flu sea­son’ it’s time for peo­ple with asthma to pro­tect them­selves against the flu virus. New anal­y­sis by Asthma UK re­veals that around 1 mil­lion Brits with asthma are at risk be­cause they’re not plan­ning to get the flu vac­cine – even though 8 in 10 peo­ple with asthma say flu is a top trig­ger for life-threat­en­ing asthma at­tacks.

That’s why Asthma UK is urg­ing peo­ple with asthma to get the flu vac­cine as soon as pos­si­ble to re­duce their risk of catch­ing the virus and prevent a life-threat­en­ing asthma at­tack.

The flu virus can in­crease the in­flam­ma­tion in the air­ways so they can be­come nar­row, leav­ing peo­ple cough­ing, wheez­ing and gasp­ing for breath. This in­creased in­flam­ma­tion also means peo­ple are more likely to re­act to other trig­gers, such as pollen or pol­lu­tion, in­creas­ing the chance of an asthma at­tack. Ev­ery asthma at­tack is po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing with around three peo­ple dy­ing from one in the UK ev­ery day.

Un­for­tu­nately, there are lots of myths about the flu jab not work­ing, caus­ing side ef­fects or caus­ing flu, and our re­search shows this is pre­vent­ing peo­ple from get­ting it. But the vac­cine can’t give you flu, the po­ten­tial side ef­fects are min­i­mal and it could save peo­ple’s lives by pre­vent­ing a lifethreat­en­ing asthma at­tack. Asthma UK’s web­site pro­vides all the in­for­ma­tion you need about flu – visit asthma.org.uk.

The flu vac­cine is avail­able free of charge to any­one with asthma who meets any of the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria:

they have been us­ing pre­ven­ter medicine

they have needed a course of oral or sys­temic steroids

they have had a pre­vi­ous hospi­tal ad­mis­sion be­cause of their asthma.

It can take up to two weeks for the vac­cine to be fully ef­fec­tive, so we are urg­ing peo­ple to get it as soon as pos­si­ble so they’re pro­tected dur­ing the ‘peak flu’ sea­son in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary. Peo­ple with asthma should also make sure they keep tak­ing their reg­u­lar pre­ven­ter medicines for their best chance of stay­ing well with their asthma.

Here are some top tips for peo­ple with asthma to pro­tect them­selves from flu this win­ter:

Get a flu vac­cine as soon as pos­si­ble if you’re el­i­gi­ble

Take your pre­ven­ter in­haler (usu­ally brown) as pre­scribed

Carry your re­liever in­haler (usu­ally blue) with you at all times

We are urg­ing peo­ple to get the facts about flu so they can make an in­formed de­ci­sion by vis­it­ing asthma.org.uk/flu.

Dr Andy Whit­ta­more

Clin­i­cal Lead at Asthma UK and a prac­tis­ing GP

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