Almost 70% of asthma sufferers in Ireland yet to receive Covid vaccine

Figures issued by the Asthma Society of Ireland to mark World Asthma Day today (May 4) indicated that almost 70% of people with the condition in this country have yet to be given a Covid-19 vaccine.

Patient and carer research which was carried out in conjunction with vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca found that 90% of people with asthma would accept a Covid vaccination, but only 31% have been vaccinated to date despite living with a respiratory illness.

Some 71% of those surveyed said they were concerned about contracting a more severe form of Covid-19 as a result of their asthma.

Half of those surveyed had an asthma attack in the past year and, worryingly, just over a quarter of respondents (26%) said they had avoided attending A&E due to Covid-19 concerns, despite experiencing these asthma emergencies.

Of those who took part in the survey, 38% admitted they had avoided support or healthcare services in the past year as they were concerned about the health impact of the virus.

More than half of the respondents (56%) felt there was not enough detailed information amid the pandemic for people living with respiratory conditions, while 36% reported experiencing mental health challenges as a result of the prolonged lockdown.

Every respondent surveyed (or the person they were caring for) was on asthma medication, but 19% reported being more careful to take it as prescribed since the outbreak of the pandemic and 13% had had their medication increased by their GP since the outbreak of the pandemic.

"The past year has been a particularly worrying time for those with asthma and their families," commented Sarah O'Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society.

"As COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, it is vital that people with asthma are in control of their condition. This is why Asthma Awareness Week 2021's overarching objective is to focus on the importance of good asthma management to prevent asthma deaths."

"We are pleased to release our AstraZeneca-supported research on World Asthma Day, as part of Asthma Awareness Week 2021, but we were very concerned at some of the findings.

"Taken as a whole, the research does not paint a picture of Ireland as being an 'asthma friendly' or an 'asthma safe' country. Every single person surveyed was on asthma medication but 80% felt that their asthma was not considered to be a life threatening condition by the general public.

"Unfortunately this is far from the case and, on average, one person in Ireland dies every week as a result of their asthma.

"Ireland has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world with 1 in 10 children and 1 in 13 adults living with the condition.

"It is essential that patients are in control of their condition and know what to do in an emergency, especially in the current environment. Only 30% of respondents knew the Five Step Rule required to manage an asthma attack. This urgently needs to be addressed in order to prevent further asthma deaths," said Ms O'Connor.

As part of Asthma Awareness Week, the public are being invited to attend a 'Love Your Lungs Asthma Conference' which is taking place virtually tomorrow (Wednesday, May 5) from 1pm to 2.30pm.

The conference will feature healthcare experts like Dr Marcus Butler, Respiratory Consultant at St Vincent's University Hospital; Dr. Dermot Nolan, GP and Asthma Specialist Advisor to the HSE and the Asthma Society; Dr Des Cox, Head of Respiratory at CHI Crumlin; and Ruth Morrow, Respiratory Nurse Specialist at the Asthma Society.

It aims to support asthma patients through the unique challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, to provide expert respiratory advice and lifestyle suggestions, and encourage best practice asthma management.

To register for the free event, visit asthma.ie

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