Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

H1N1 Vaccine Safe, Effective for People with Asthma

by Thomas Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC


A new study on the use of the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in people with asthma is quite interesting because it indicates that a single dose of vaccine is safe, and it induces a strong immune response for protection against the flu virus. However, people over the age of 60 with severe asthma may require a larger dose of the vaccine.

U.S. researchers involved in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Severe Asthma Research Program looked at 390 people aged 12–79 years who were divided into two groups based on the severity of their asthma. Half of the participants in each group received a 15-microgram dose of vaccine, while the other half received a 30-microgram dose, both by injection. Three weeks later, each participant received a second dose in the same amount as the first dose. The investigators measured the level of antibodies against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in blood samples taken from the participants three weeks after each injection to assess the strength of the immune response.

In participants with mild to moderate asthma, and in most participants with severe asthma, a single 15-microgram dose was sufficient to induce a presumably protective immune response. The immune response seen after the first dose was not further improved after the second dose, indicating that a single dose was adequate. Participants over age 60 with severe asthma had diminished immune responses to the 15-microgram dose, but the 30-microgram dose gave an adequate response. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Ask your health care provider if you need to have a larger dose of the vaccine.

Thomas Kallstrom is a registered respiratory therapist and serves as chief operating officer of the American Association for Respiratory Care in Irving, TX.


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