Why people with asthma should get a flu jab

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It’s time for people with asthma to protect themselves against the flu virus.

New analysis by Asthma UK reveals that around one million Brits with asthma are at risk because they’re not planning to get the flu vaccine – even though eight in 10 say flu is a top trigger for life-threatening 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 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 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 life-threatening asthma attack.

Asthma UK’s website provides all the information you need about flu.

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 or 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 and carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you at all times.

Get the facts about flu visiting asthma.org.uk/flu.

Dr Andy Whittamore,

Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP,

Mansell Street,

London