Each flu season, many people debate whether or not they should get a flu shot. However, when we are deciding what is the best thing to do for our children/adolescents with asthma, we need to have a better understanding of the facts and fears we have towards the flu vaccine. Immunization each year is the best way to protect yourself and your children/adolescents with asthma from the flu.

Flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe, especially in children younger than 5 who have asthma. These children are at a greater risk for complications from the flu such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections. These complications can lead to a stay in the hospital and even death. In 2017, there were 72 pediatric deaths from flu complications–74% occurred in unvaccinated children ages 6 months to 17 years old.

In 2016-2017, the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) or the nasal spray was not recommended due to concerns of it effectiveness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that in 2015-2016, the nasal spray had no protective benefit for children ages 2 to 17 whereas the children who got the flu shot were 63% less likely to get the flu compared to those who weren’t vaccinated. CDC will review this recommendation for 2017-2018.

CDC also recommends that everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year by the end of October. However, you can still get your shot through January or later.

In this past year, the recommendations for people with egg allergies were updated. If you only get hives after exposure to eggs, you can get the flu shot. However, if you have additional symptoms, you can still get the flu shot as long as it is administered and supervised by your doctor who can manage severe allergic conditions. People with egg allergies no longer need to wait 30 minutes after the vaccine has been administered. People who are high risk can also be treated with antiviral drugs. It is most effective if started within 48 hours.

So this October, don’t be the one who “should have, could have, would have” gotten the flu shot. Remember children and adolescents with asthma experience more asthma attacks if they get the flu. To learn more about asthma management, as well as Breathe Pennsylvania’s programs and services, visit us at www.breathepa.org.