People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at greater risk for serious complications from influenza (the flu), such as pneumonia. It is important to protect yourself by receiving a flu shot each year.
What does it involve?
People with COPD should only receive flu vaccines by injection, not via nasal spray. It is important to receive a flu shot each year in September or October, before the flu begins spreading widely. The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully effective. Flu season begins in October and usually peaks between January and March. The flu vaccine cannot infect you with the flu.
The flu shot is usually given into the muscle of the upper arm.
You can receive a flu shot from your doctor. Some pharmacies also offer flu shots on a walk-in basis.
For maximum protection against infection, make sure you also receive a pneumococcal vaccine.
Getting a flu shot each year can help prevent flu-related complications. Annual flu shots may also help reduce the number of COPD exacerbations you experience.
In four clinical trials, people with COPD were either given flu shots or a placebo. Those who received the flu shot experienced fewer COPD exacerbations compared with those who received the placebo.
If you are allergic to eggs, tell your doctor or pharmacist. There are egg-free versions of the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine may not be appropriate for people who have shown hypersensitivity to it in the past.
Your shoulder or arm may feel sore for a day or two after receiving a flu shot. You may experience itching or swelling at the site of the injection.
Some people experience mild flu-like symptoms for a day or two after receiving a flu shot. Symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, fever, and skin rash.