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Flu hits hard for asthma sufferers

For people suffering from asthma, winter can be an uncomfortable time as cold air is a trigger for asthma flare-ups.

Winter also brings the added threat of catching the flu – and for asthma sufferers, the flu can hit hard.

Today is World Asthma Day, and to coincide, Queensland’s Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Mark Elcock is urging all Queenslanders who suffer from asthma to get their flu vaccination now.

“While I encourage everybody to have their flu vaccination, it is particularly important for those suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma,” Dr Elcock said.

“Contracting influenza can enhance the already problematic symptoms of asthma including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in the chest.

“If not treated properly, these symptoms can cause hospitalisation.

“Having the flu vaccination reduces the risk of contracting and spreading certain strains of influenza, which can make the symptoms of asthma significantly worse.”

The flu vaccine is free for all people aged 6 months or older with certain medical conditions that can lead to complications from influenza, including severe asthma.

Dr Elcock said the public need to be aware that the vaccine isn’t immediately effective.

“It generally takes 10 to 14 days to be fully protected after vaccination,” Dr Elcock said.

“It’s important to remember the vaccination only protects against the flu strains in the vaccine itself, so it won’t stop a person from getting a different strain or a severe cold.”

“Good hygiene is very important both before and after you’ve had a flu vaccination as some other influenza-like illnesses are caused by other viruses that aren’t covered by the vaccine.”

Queenslanders who suffer from asthma are encouraged to keep warm during the winter months, avoid contact with anyone who is sick, wash hands regularly, and stay home from work and public places if you have flu-like symptoms.

For those eligible for the funded vaccine, arrange an appointment with your doctor or immunisation provider. Those who are not eligible for the funded vaccine are strongly encouraged to consider vaccination, which can be obtained from your doctor, immunisation provider or pharmacist.

Media contact: +61 7 3234 1439

Last updated: 2 May 2017