People with asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions are being urged by health leaders in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to get their free flu vaccination, in order to protect themselves this winter.
People who suffer from asthma but control it well, using inhalers or following an asthma plan, often think that the flu jab isn’t free for them or, as their asthma is under control, they wouldn’t need it.
But flu is not just a bad cold – it can be extremely serious, even if people are already fit and healthy when they catch it. For those who already have a long term health condition such as asthma, it can be even more dangerous as the body will struggle more to fight off the illness and they are more at risk of complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia. This can lead to hospitalisation, and even death.
The vaccine does not contain live influenza virus, so it’s not possible to catch the flu from the vaccination.
Figures from Public Health England* have revealed that last year in Leicestershire less than half of eligible people with chronic respiratory conditions in the area took up the offer of a free flu jab, leaving them vulnerable to the deadly virus.
Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chair of West Leicestershire CCG and a working GP in Leicestershire said:
“Many people with asthma and other respiratory conditions are used to managing their health well, but what they don’t realise is that flu can hit you fast.
“Flu can be much more serious for people with asthma, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well-controlled by medication. This is because people with asthma have sensitive airways, and flu can cause further inflammation of the airways and lungs. Flu in the lungs can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms. It also can lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases.
“Someone with asthma who catches flu is at an increased risk of needing to be admitted to hospital and of dying, even if their asthma is mild. Having a simple flu jab can prevent this. It’s vital all those with asthma take up the free vaccine available to them to protect themselves.”