Did you forget to get your seasonal flu shot this fall? Fret not, as there is still time to do so. Asthmatics and other at-risk groups benefit most from this vaccination, since they have the greatest risk of suffering complications when they get the flu.
A new American study, which was conducted in 2009 and involved nearly 400 asthmatics between the ages of 12 and 79, showed that a single dose of H1N1 vaccine produced a strong immune response indicative of protection against the virus. Asthmatics over the age of 60, however, may need a stronger dose of the vaccine, which is no surprise since our immune system tends to lose some of its vitality around that age. These study findings are important, because the H1N1 vaccine is a major component of the seasonal flu vaccine offered for the 2010-2011 season.
Some people worry about the long-term use of strong corticosteroid doses among individuals with severe asthma, believing that such doses could reduce the body’s immune response to the vaccine. This new study confirms that for the vast majority of asthmatic individuals, a regular dose of flu vaccine offers sufficient protection. The researchers also took advantage of this study to collect data on the safety of the vaccine. Together with an independent safety monitoring committee, they concluded that the flu vaccine is safe and well well-tolerated, and that it does not pose a risk of exacerbating the person’s asthma.
Therefore, even if you forgot to get your flu vaccine in the fall, it’s not too late to do so now, especially if you belong to a group that is at greater risk (persons over the age of 60, pregnant women and individuals with chronic diseases such as asthma). The vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu, but it can reduce its severity and thus prevent complications.