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Access to asthma meds, plus flu vaccines, keep kids with asthma healthy

November 11, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 11, 2016) - Kids need flu shots to prevent asthma flares, and medications available in school to keep 86 percent in class, according to two studies being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.

The first study looked at outcomes for kids with asthma following passage of a bill in Missouri which provides schools with equipment and access to medications to treat asthma. It also allows trained school employees to administer bronchodilator treatments to students when needed.

"Schools that implemented the RESCUE program (Resources for Every School Confronting Unexpected Emergencies) had great success in being able to send kids back to class," says allergist Manoj Warrier, MD, ACAAI member and study lead author. "Getting kids back to class rather than sending them home or to the emergency department creates improved health for our students and better academic performances, a win-win."

In the 2013-2014 school year, 90 schools used the equipment 1,357 times. That resulted in 86 percent of students going back to class, 11 percent going home and 1 percent being sent to the ED. In the 2014-2015 school year, 124 schools participated, with use of the equipment increasing, and similar percentages of kids going back to class. Participating schools were supplied with nebulizers, chambers, additional supplies, and access to free albuterol. When RESCUE supplies were used, school nurses logged the outcomes. The RESCUE program was developed by the St. Louis chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

A second study found children with asthma were vaccinated for the flu at a higher rate than children without asthma. The study also found overall, vaccination rates are low, and have remained stagnant for the past five years. Researchers reviewed the electronic medical records of children 2-18 years of age seen in a pediatric hospital between 2010-2014.

"During the 2014-2015 season, influenza vaccination rates were significantly higher for children with asthma (54 percent) compared to children without (44 percent), but were still below goal," said allergy fellow-in-training Deepa Patadia, MD, ACAAI member and lead author of the study. "It's important for kids with asthma to get an annual flu vaccine due to increased risk for complications with a serious infection like the flu. We still have room for improvement in getting kids vaccinated against the flu."

The study also showed that for children with asthma, vaccination rates were lower for children older than 13 years of age and those who were African American. Vaccination rates were higher for children receiving Medicaid and those of Latino and Asian ethnicity. There were no differences observed by gender.

According to ACAAI, unlike other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications for those with asthma, and every year, people die from flu-related complications. Because both asthma and the flu are respiratory conditions, people with asthma may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks if they get the flu. As a result, it is particularly important for people with asthma to take steps to minimize their risk of exposure.

-end-

Abstract Title: State-wide legislation positively impacts attendance for students with asthma

Author: Manoj Warrier, MD, ACAAI member

Abstract Title: Influenza vaccination rates among children with asthma

Author: Deepa Patadia, MD, ACAAI member

For more information about asthma and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. The ACAAI Annual Meeting is November 10-14, 2016 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco, CA. For more news and research from the ACAAI Scientific Meeting, go to our newsroom - and follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI16.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

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