Asthma is a serious lung condition that affects the breathing of one in nine Australians.  The severity of asthma varies from person to person, from shortness of breath to breathing difficulties on a daily basis. All asthma can lead to a life-threatening attack which is why prevention is so important.  

Respiratory infections like influenza or pneumonia can complicate asthma. The combined health impacts may be more severe or your recovery longer. This is because asthma makes your lungs more sensitive, especially to some viruses and bacteria.  

For people with asthma, immunisation is important. Immunisation is an evidence-based approach. It can prevent and protect you from respiratory infections caused by these viruses.  

Have you ever wondered the difference between the words: vaccine, vaccination and immunisation? 

  • Vaccines are the medicine used to immunise people against infectious diseases. 
  • Vaccination is the term used for getting a vaccine – such as when you have the injection. 
  • Immunisation is the process of getting the vaccine and then becoming immune once the vaccine has time to work.   

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important vaccines are. Both in individuals at risk and for the health of the whole Australian population.  

Watch our video that shares real life stories of our Asthma Champions – people like you – on the benefits of vaccines as part of your asthma management plan.

Vaccines reduce the risk of getting diseases. They also reduce the risk of experiencing severe complications from these diseases. Vaccines are a global health and development success story, saving millions of lives per year.  

Broadly, as stated in the Draft National Preventive Health Strategy: Vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs), such as rubella, tetanus, whooping cough and influenza, can have a severe impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and the community.  Immunisation is one of the most significant public health interventions of the past 200 years, and the WHO estimates that immunisation prevents 2–3 million deaths worldwide each year. 

Immunisation recommendations: 

For people with asthma, it is highly recommended to be immunised: 

  • Against influenza (the flu) every year, particularly for people with severe asthma. People with severe asthma will access the flu vaccination free of charge. You can also access flu vaccines at most chemists at low cost. 
  • Against pneumococcal disease, especially for people with severe asthma. Most people have a pneumococcal vaccine in early childhood. Later in life, it is made available again for people particularly at risk of pneumococcal disease.
  • Against COVID-19. These vaccines help protect you from severe illness with COVID-19. Everyone in Australia aged 5 years and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone.  

We recommend getting all the nationally recommended vaccines for people with asthma. Discuss your individual health situation with your doctor or vaccine provider. 

With the COVID-19 here to stay, it’s more important than ever that people with asthma consider all their options to protect themselves. This includes having your COVID-19 vaccine and booster.  

Have questions? Chat to your doctor or call one of our Asthma Educators on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462). 

This webpage was developed independently by Asthma Australia, with support via an unrestricted grant from Sanofi