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Results of a recently-conducted Asthma Society of Ireland survey revealed that 77 per cent of respondents availed of the flu vaccine in 2020, with 12 per cent of those receiving the vaccine for the first time. The high uptake of the flu vaccine seen in 2020 due to the threat of Covid-19 looks likely to be replicated this year, with 83 per cent of respondents saying that they intend to get the flu vaccine this winter.

The survey, conducted among 1,602 people with asthma and their carers, aims to highlight the importance of the public protecting themselves and their loved ones with asthma from flu this year. The HSE advises that all people with moderate-to-severe asthma should ensure that they get their vaccine.

Of those surveyed, 9 per cent have been diagnosed with severe asthma, with 29 per cent and 28 per cent with moderate and mild asthma, respectively. A large majority said they would get a flu vaccine, as they are very concerned about protecting themselves (74 per cent) High uptake of flu vaccine in 2020 likely to be replicated this year PANDEMIC BONUS SCHEME and family members (35 per cent) against contracting flu this winter. Forty per cent of respondents said they would vaccinate to avoid prompting an asthma attack.

Flu can be an asthma trigger and can cause symptoms to flare and people with moderate-to-severe asthma are at higher risk of flu-related complications. The flu vaccine helps the body to produce proteins that fight infection and starts to work within two weeks. The Asthma Society highlighted that if someone has moderate-to-severe asthma, they can get the flu vaccine for free.

Ms Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society, encouraged those with asthma or with family members with asthma to get the flu vaccine. “It’s great to see such a positive response to vaccine uptake. It is so important to take extra precautions this time of year, and we know that colds and flu, along with respiratory infections, can be triggers for many people with asthma,” she said.

“While it’s impossible to completely rule-out the possibility of catching a virus, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the flu and reduce your risk of getting sick. Make sure your asthma is well under control before the flu season begins. It is heartening that 50 per cent of those surveyed intend to speak with their GP or respiratory specialist this year.

We would encourage all asthma patients to speak to your doctor or asthma nurse specialist about getting the flu vaccine.” The survey was supported by Sanofi. For a detailed list of the groups at risk and more information on the flu vaccine, visit http://www.immunisation.ie.