Purpose of review: Influenza infections are frequently involved in asthma exacerbations. During influenza epidemics substantial excess morbidity due to respiratory tract complications is reported in all age categories as well as excess mortality among the elderly. Vaccines are available for protection against influenza. Worldwide, vaccination is advised and considered a quality point for asthma care. However, the protective effect of influenza vaccination in patients with asthma is still disputed. In order to establish the current state of affairs we reviewed the recent literature on the protective effect of influenza vaccination and its usefulness in patients with asthma.
Recent findings: Several studies were found addressing influenza and the protective aspects of vaccination. They discussed the incidence, the adverse effects of vaccination, the coverage of influenza vaccination among patients with asthma and the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Summary: Influenza vaccination can safely be used in patients with asthma. Allegations that vaccination could provoke asthma exacerbations are convincingly invalidated by previous and recent research. Although patients with asthma are one of the major target groups for immunization, vaccine coverage in all age categories remains low. So far, no unequivocal beneficial effect of influenza vaccination in patients with asthma was found in observational and experimental studies in the sense of reduction of asthma exacerbations and other complications. Recent studies confirm these negative findings. More long-term randomized, placebo-controlled studies, focusing on influenza- proven illness in patients with asthma, are needed to address the question of how helpful influenza vaccination is in these patients.