Time for people to protect against flu
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