Updated 17/03/2022

Do you have Severe Asthma? Find brand new information and resources here: http://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/severe-asthma/   

What is Severe Asthma?

A small proportion of people with asthma have a diagnosis of severe asthma or are on a pathway to getting a diagnosis 

People with severe asthma are now being advised to get a winter booster of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Someone with severe asthma will still have regular asthma symptoms and asthma attacks despite being on high doses of medication. Their asthma does not respond or get better with usual asthma medicines.    

Severe asthma is very difficult to treat. People will need high doses of inhaled medication plus specialised medicines in a lot of cases. People with severe asthma will try a lot of medicines over their life. They will experience persistent and life-threatening breathing problems and need emergency care on a regular basis. 

Having severe or uncontrolled asthma may be a factor that worsens COVID-19 outcomes. 

During COVID-19, you should continue to take all your asthma medications as prescribed. This includes oral corticosteroids (prednisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone) or monoclonal antibodies (biologics) to treat a flare-up or as a regular medication. There is no evidence so far that using monoclonal antibodies for asthma could make you more likely to get COVID-19 or to get more severe disease. Do not stop any medications without first speaking to your doctor.  

People with severe asthma can and should have a COVID-19 vaccine and booster. An extra ‘winter booster’ (usually the fourth dose) is now recommended for people at increased risk of severe illness. This includes people with severe asthma. 

Self-isolation recommendations 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian expert leaders in severe asthma have recommended that people with severe asthma self-isolate from others and practice strict physical distancing when COVID-19 is spreading in their community.   

If you are working, talk to your employer or workplace about having a risk assessment. Ask your doctor for a personalised letter explaining the extra precautions recommended for people with severe asthma. Try to find ways you can continue to take part in work, school and community activities in a safe manner. 

If self-isolation is not possible for you, we suggest that you could take reasonable extra precautions like: 

  • Wearing masks when indoors (including in public transport). 
  • Working from home where possible. 
  • Get groceries and other essential items delivered, where possible. 
  • Avoiding crowded areas. 
  • Limit visiting restaurants or bars where many people around you will not be wearing masks. 
  • Exercise in open spaces like parks or natural environments 

Emotional impact 

We understand that this health protection message can be quite stressful to hear.  

During these times we are isolated from our communities. We need to pay careful attention to our emotional wellbeing. The following are things you can try to do to stay on top of your mental and emotional wellbeing: 

  • Find an activity that will help you achieve satisfaction or ‘flow’, this can be anything like music, art, craft, building, projects, gardening, or writing. 
  • Try to stay connected. Even by telephone and video can help. Social connectedness can help counteract negative feelings that can come on during the pandemic 
  • Limit your consumption of media. Identify 2-3 trusted sources and limit how much time per day you consume news media 
  • Actively try to stay on top of your wellbeing by controlling the controllable: 
  • Follow expert advice, maintain good personal hygiene, keep check of your positive attitude 
  • Find a routine, do things you enjoy and try new things 
  • Keep perspective, manage expectations and make future plans 
  • Stay physically active, eat nutritionally and limit alcohol intake 

Many services exist where trained professionals are in place to listen to your concerns and provide some guidance, tips, and resources.  

Read more about Mental Health and COVID-19 here 

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Call 1800 ASTHMA to speak to one of our specialist Asthma Educators if you have questions. 

For more information on Severe Asthma, click here. 

References: 

Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma. Clinical Recommendations for COVID-19 in Severe Asthma. Version 2, 7th May 2021. https://www.severeasthma.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/COVID-19-CRE-Recommendations-7-May-2021-v2.pdf  

National Asthma Council Australia. Australian Immunisation Handbook, Version 2.2. COVID-19. https://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/clinical-issues/covid-19  

Last reviewed July 2022