Arlington Heights, IL (PRWEB) July 30, 2009
The nation's allergists are urging asthma patients to get a swine (H1N1) flu shot in addition to a seasonal flu shot this fall to protect themselves against both types of the influenza following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccine Advisory Committee recommendations July 29 that identified people with asthma as one of the high-priority groups to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its member allergists, who are experts in diagnosing and treating asthma, warn that those with asthma who contract the flu (either H1N1 or seasonal) can have a more severe case and take longer to recover. When the H1N1 vaccine becomes available, the ACAAI recommends the 22 million Americans with asthma get that shot in addition to a seasonal flu shot. To date, patients with asthma represented about one in three of the hospitalizations due to the H1N1 virus.
Each year, flu-related complications in the United States are responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths. In June 2009, the World Health Organization declared the swine flu a pandemic due to the spread of the virus which has resulted in an estimated 43,000 reported cases in the United States including 302 deaths. The CDC estimates that these reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg and that there have been a least a million cases of the H1N1 virus since June of this year.
"While everyone needs to be aware of the symptoms of the new H1N1 virus, patients with chronic health problems like asthma need to be especially concerned if they develop respiratory symptoms," said Richard Gower, M.D., president of the ACAAI. "If you have asthma and experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat, dry cough, nasal congestion and body aches, call your doctor immediately to determine if treatment is needed. If symptoms are caught early, antiviral drugs can be used to combat the virus and help prevent complications."
Asthma patients also will still need to get a separate vaccine for the seasonal flu this fall. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that adults with asthma, particularly younger adults, are being vaccinated against the flu at levels well below national goals.