Vaccines in respiratory disease

Flu syringe

Vaccination is a process that gives a person protection, or immunity, against an infection. It works by giving very small parts of or a weakened form of a virus or bacterium. The virus or bacterium stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against known diseases. These antibodies are then able to recognise and effectively destroy the infection when they are next exposed to it. This helps to protect a person from developing the infectious disease if they come into contact with it in the future.

Having a respiratory condition makes patients more susceptible to developing lung infections and a vaccination is an effective way of helping protect against infections.

Influenza vaccination

Vaccines against influenza and pneumonia are recommended for people with respiratory conditions.

The flu vaccination is delivered at the start of each winter to target the strains of flu circulating that year.

  • Influenza is caused by 4 different influenza viruses, A,B,C and D.
  • A and B cause of seasonal outbreaks.
  • Influenza A is the most serious and causes most of the epidemics.
  • Touching surfaces previously touched by an infected person and droplet infection are how the flu virus spreads.
  • Influenza vaccine is inactive. Small amounts of 3 strains of virus are used. The patient will not contract the disease against which they are being vaccinated.
  • Flu is particularly prevalent between October to March each year. The vaccination should be given as early as possible at the start of this time period for best protection.
  • Protection can take up to 2 weeks after vaccination to become effective.
  • Over 65s are given a vaccine which covers all 3 strains plus an additional substance that strengthens the immune response to the vaccine.

The body’s immunity to flu weakens over time, yearly vaccinations should be given to boost the immune system.