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COPD patients benefit from flu jab

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COPD patients given the annual flu vaccine are significantly less likely to suffer from episodes of acute respiratory illness, suggests a new study in this month’s International Journal of Clinical practice.

University of Delhi researchers studied 87 male patients with COPD for a year before and a year after they received the flu vaccine.

Prior to having the vaccine, the researchers said that 24 patients experienced acute respiratory illness or acute exacerbation of COPD. Post-vaccination, only eight people suffered acute respiratory problems, an overall reduction of nearly 70%.

Those with severe COPD benefited most from the vaccine, with the incidence of additional breathing problems falling by 75%, added the authors.

Following the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that all patients with COPD should receive the vaccine, it is common practice in theUK. But the authors said that the injection is still not used as widely as it could be, especially in developing countries.

Lead study author Dr Balakrishnan Menon, said: ‘Influenza viruses are a major cause of death and serious illness in elderly people, particularly if they suffer from COPD.

‘It is clear that annual flu vaccinations have a major role to play in bringing down the number of preventable deaths and hospital admissions that occur every year in patients with chronic lung diseases.’

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