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Vaccines for People with Asthma

The CDC advises that people with asthma get certain vaccines. Vaccines help the immune system protect the body against bacteria or viruses to prevent infection.

Flu shot

The flu (influenza) is an infection caused by a virus. The virus spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Flu symptoms may include:

  • Sudden high fever

  • Chills

  • Body aches

  • Sore throat

  • Runny nose

  • Dry cough

  • Headache

But people with asthma who catch the flu may become especially sick. The illness sometimes leads to pneumonia. In some cases, you may need a stay in the hospital.

Health care provider giving woman injection in upper arm.

If you have asthma you should get a yearly flu shot. Keep in mind that the flu shot will help protect you from getting the flu, but it will not lessen asthma flare-ups during flu season.

This vaccine doesn't provide complete protection. It makes it less likely that you will catch the flu for about the next 6 months. You need a new flu shot every year.

The best time to get the flu shot is when it becomes available in your community. This will help ensure that you are protected before flu season begins. It helps if the people you live with get flu shots, too. Don’t get the nasal spray vaccine. It could trigger an asthma attack. Note: Even in people who don't have asthma, the nasal spray is not recommended for use in the 2017-2018 flu season. The CDC says this is because the nasal spray did not seem to protect against the flu over the last several flu seasons.

Here are some other tips to help you stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Stay away from people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Pneumonia shot

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial illness. It can cause serious or even deadly infections of the lungs (pneumonia), blood (bacteremia), and covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). The pneumococcal vaccine isn’t 100% effective. But it can go a long way toward protecting you from the worst infections. You can get the pneumococcal vaccine at the same time as your flu shot or at any other time of the year.

Adults with asthma ages 19 and older should get a onetime pneumonia vaccine to help protect against pneumonia. A second vaccine is recommended for people ages 65 and older who got their first dose when they were younger than age 65, if 5 or more years have passed since that dose.

I had my flu shot on ______________ (date) and I had my pneumonia shot on ______________ (date).

Medical Reviewers:

  • Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
  • Blaivas, Allen J., DO
  • Cunningham, Louise, RN