National Asthma Council Australia urges asthmatics to get vaccinated


Monday, 29 March, 2021


National Asthma Council Australia urges asthmatics to get vaccinated

The National Asthma Council Australia has released updates to the Australian Asthma Handbook, which will help health professionals advise patients with asthma during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The recommendations advise health professionals to reassure their patients that having asthma (including severe asthma) or allergic rhinitis does not prevent them from having a COVID-19 vaccination or increase the risk of adverse reactions. The recommendations are subject to change as more evidence emerges.

The update also addresses the use of monoclonal antibody therapies for asthma, which do not interfere with COVID-19 vaccines, and reiterates that nebulisers should not be used to administer inhaled medicines, unless unavoidable.

The Chair of the Guidelines Committee, Professor Nick Zwar, said the National Asthma Council Australia is encouraging people with asthma to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We are advising health professionals to reassure their patients that having asthma, including severe asthma, or allergic rhinitis does not prevent someone having a COVID-19 vaccination or increase the risk of adverse reactions. In fact, we are encouraging Australians with asthma to get the COVID-19 vaccine from their GP as soon as it is available,” he said.

“We also want to strongly encourage patients using asthma medicines to keep using them before and after they have the COVID-19 vaccination. This includes oral corticosteroids used short term to manage asthma flare-ups in people with asthma, or long term to manage severe asthma in a very small proportion of patients.”

Professor Zwar explained that monoclonal antibody therapies for asthma (omalizumab, mepolizumab, benralizumab and dupilumab) — often called ‘biologics’ — do not suppress the immune system and do not interfere with COVID-19 vaccines.

“However, if possible,” he said, “a monoclonal antibody therapy should not be administered on the same day as a COVID-19 vaccine so that, if there are side effects, the cause will be easier to identify.

“We are also reminding health professionals administering COVID-19 vaccinations that they should follow guidance provided by health authorities and the product information, including precautions for people with severe allergies or a history of anaphylaxis.”

Professor Zwar said that, as some Australians with asthma may need to wait some time before they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, they should talk to their health professional about the best time to get the 2021 influenza vaccination.

“Health professionals should reassure their asthma patients that they don’t need to wait until they have the COVID-19 vaccine to get the flu vaccine. Given that supply of COVID-19 vaccines is limited, it is likely that flu vaccine will become available first.

“GPs can also best advise their asthma patients on the recommended interval between a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” Professor Zwar said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe/com/au/WavebreakmediaMicro

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