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Adults With Asthma Should Receive Flu Vaccination

Adults with asthma are at high risk of developing complications after contracting the influenza virus, yet most adults with asthma do not receive an annual flu vaccination. Only one-third of all asthmatic adults and one-fifth of asthmatic adults younger than 50 years of age receive the flu vaccine annually, according to a study [external link] by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was published in the September 2003 issue of Chest (the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians).

Respiratory infections like influenza are more serious in patients with asthma, and such infections can often lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

CDC researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey, 1999 to 2001, to examine the prevalence of flu vaccinations among people who have asthma. The following percentage of survey respondents with asthma reported that they received the flu vaccine: 35.1% (1999), 36.7% (2000), and 33.3% (2001).

As study respondents with asthma aged, the number who were vaccinated increased, as indicated below:

  • 18 to 49 years of age: 20.9% (1999), 22.7% (2000), and 21.1% (2001)
  • 50 to 64 years of age: 46.2% (1999), 47.8% (2000), and 42.3% (2001)
  • 65 years of age and older: 72.8% (1999), 71.2% (2000), and 64.8% (2001)

According to the survey, vaccination rates increased among those respondents with higher education. Sex and ethnicity also affected vaccination rates. Of those respondents interviewed in 2000, fewer men than women and fewer African Americans than whites reported having been vaccinated. In 2001, fewer Hispanics than whites reported having been vaccinated.

Annual flu vaccination rates among people with asthma need to be increased. The flu vaccine is safe and effective. All people who have asthma should be encouraged to get the flu vaccination as part of their routine care.

Chart Showing Percentage of Adults Receiving Influenza Immunization, 1999-2001
Source: National Health Interview Survey

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