Myths About Flu Shots and Asthma

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
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Influenza (flu) is a contagious upper respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness depending on the initial health of the patient. While the flu can be detected year round, peak “flu season” tends to run from December to March. A flu shot is of utmost importance to decrease the prevalence and severity of the disease.

Be aware of how serious the flu can be

Myth: The flu isn’t serious so there is no point in getting a flu shot.

Fact: Approximately 4,600 people died from the flu — or complications from the flu — in 2015.

You can’t count on others being vaccinated to protect you

Myth: Most adults with asthma get the flu shot every year.

Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only about one-third of all asthmatic adults get the flu shot every year.

Younger adults need to do a better job being vaccinated

Myth: Younger adults with asthma are more likely to get the flu shot than older adults.

Fact: According to the Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, only one-fifth of asthmatic adults younger than 50 years old get the flu shot every year.

Frequency of the flu in asthmatics

Myth: Asthmatics are more likely to get the flu.

Fact: Asthmatics get the flu at the same rates as non-asthmatics.

Complications of the flu for asthmatics

Myth: Complications from the flu are the same for asthmatics as they are for non-asthmatics.

Fact: Asthmatics with the flu have more complications, like pneumonia and respiratory distress, than healthy patients.

The flu shot and concurrent asthma attacks

Myth: The flu shot can worsen asthma or provoke attacks.

Fact: According to new research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, flu shots are not associated with increases in asthma attacks.

How effectively a flu shot protects you

Myth: I get vaccinated every year, and I still end up with the flu. Obviously, there’s no point in getting a flu shot.

Fact: The flu shot works 60 percent of the time; the remaining 40 percent of the time, flu symptoms are less severe, and the virus does not last as long for those who do get the flu.

Egg allergies and flu shots

Myth: If you have an egg allergy (as well as asthma) you can’t get the flu shot.

Fact: Flublok Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Vaccine is available for those people 18 and over who are allergic to eggs.

Elimination of the FluMist vaccine

Myth: The FluMist vaccine is a good option for children who hate needles.

Fact: The FluMist should not be given to anyone with asthma, and pediatricians have recommended that it not to be used at all in the coming flu season as it's been shown to be ineffective.

Infants and children should be vaccinated

Myth: Infants are too young to get the flu shot.

Fact: Children over the age of 6 months are eligible to get a flu shot. For those under 8 years old (who are getting the flu shot for the first time) a second dose may be needed.