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Millions of people around the world have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Most people experience mild or no side effects after vaccination. Severe side effects are rare for the three COVID-19 vaccines approved in the United States.

Currently, the latest scientific evidence suggests that people with asthma are not at an elevated risk of developing side effects from COVID-19 vaccines.

Most health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend that people with asthma get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as it becomes available to them.

Keep reading to learn why most health experts recommend people with asthma get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Yes. CDC recommends people with asthma get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon they can.

People with moderate, severe, or uncontrolled asthma are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than people without asthma.

Some people have reported worsening asthma symptoms after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, but current scientific evidence hasn’t found a link between asthma and an increased risk of side effects.

Clinical trials assessing the safety and effectiveness of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States included people with moderate or severe asthma. For example, the Moderna clinical trials included people with chronic lung diseases such as:

Along with CDC, most other health authorities also recommend people with asthma get a COVID-19 vaccine, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Initiative for Asthma.

People with asthma don’t appear to be at a higher risk of developing COVID-19 vaccine side effects. The chances of developing severe complications from vaccines are very rare.

Here’s a brief look at the most commonly reported side effects of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently used in the United States.

All statistics come from CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and COVID data tracker. They are current as of September 4, 2021.

Pfizer-BioNTech

From the 212,979,842 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines administered, CDC lists 214,498 total reported adverse events, including 464 cases of asthma and seven cases of exercise-induced asthma. The 10 most common side effects are:

Moderna

From the 146,657,321 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines administered, CDC lists 225,187 reported adverse events. Asthma was reported 458 times and exercise-induced asthma four times. The 10 most common side effects are:

Johnson & Johnson

From the 14,492,832 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines administered, CDC lists 227,826 reported adverse effects, including 87 cases of asthma and two cases of exercise-induced asthma. The 10 most common side effects are:

  • headache
  • fever
  • chills
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • pain in extremities
  • muscle aches
  • pain at injection site

The risks of having COVID-19 seem to be similar in people with asthma compared with people who don’t have asthma. Here’s the research so far:

  • In a January 2021 research review, researchers found that people with asthma only made up 1.6 percent of cases out of a group of 161,271 people with COVID-19. Based on the information they collected about preexisting conditions, researchers concluded that asthma isn’t associated with an increased risk of developing COVID-19.
  • According to CDC, people with moderate to severe or uncontrolled asthma are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. A March 2021 study found asthma is associated with a higher cost of medical care in people with COVID-19, and that people with severe asthma have a significantly longer length of treatment on average.
  • A June 2020 study found that COVID-19 wasn’t linked to exacerbation of severe asthma, possibly because drugs used to manage asthma inhibit viral replication.
  • The increased risk of hospitalization in people with moderate to severe asthma is largely because people with moderate to severe asthma are older, and the fact that COVID-19 risks are greater for that population.
  • A May 2021 study found a slightly reduced asthma exacerbation frequency since the start of the pandemic. However, people with asthma have more anxiety about getting COVID-19.

Despite the fact that research hasn’t found that having mild asthma elevates your risk of getting COVID-19, it’s still important for people with asthma to take precautions to avoid illness, and to make sure they take all their asthma medications as prescribed.

Asthma doesn’t have a cure, but a combination of breathing exercises and medications can treat it. Some medications are quick-acting and treat asthma attacks, while others are for long-term management.

Asthma treatment options

The following treatments can help manage asthma:

  • Breathing exercises. Doctors and occupational therapists can teach you breathing exercises that can help you increase lung capacity and cut down on severe asthma symptoms.
  • Bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are medications used to relax the muscles in your airways and to stimulate quick relief of asthma symptoms.
  • Long-term medications. A number of medications may be recommended for long-term use to reduce symptoms. These medications include:
    • anti-inflammatories
    • anticholinergics
    • long-acting bronchodilators
    • biologic therapy drugs
  • Bronchial thermoplasty. Bronchial thermoplasty is a treatment that uses electrodes to heat your airways to prevent the muscles in your airway from tightening. This treatment is only for people with severe asthma and is not widely available.

What you can do at home: Tips for managing asthma

No home remedies can treat asthma attacks. Asthma attacks require a rescue inhaler and immediate medical attention.

The following home remedies may help you manage general asthma symptoms:

  • Eat an overall balanced diet.
  • Maintain a moderate weight.
  • Reduce your exposure to lung irritants, like dust or mold.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19.
  • Take precautions to avoid respiratory illness, like frequent handwashing and wearing a face mask.

Severe asthma attacks require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of an asthma emergency can include:

  • severe shortness of breath and trouble speaking
  • rapid breathing that causes your chest or ribs to visibly retract
  • an inability to perform normal activities
  • symptoms that don’t get better after using a rescue inhaler
  • trouble breathing in or out fully
  • developing blue or pale fingernails, lips, or face
  • flaring nostrils while breathing rapidly
  • straining of your chest muscles while breathing heavily

It’s important to also seek medical attention if you develop other concerning symptoms that don’t fall into any of these categories.

If you’re not sure whether you’re having an asthma emergency, it’s best to seek emergency medical care.

The National Health Service recommends the following steps when having an asthma emergency:

  1. Sit upright and try to take slow and steady breaths. Try your best to remain calm.
  2. Take one puff of your rescue inhaler every 30 to 60 seconds for up to 10 puffs.
  3. Call an ambulance if:
    • you don’t have your inhaler
    • you feel worse after using your inhaler
    • you don’t feel better after 10 puffs
    • you feel worried at any point

Most health authorities, including CDC and WHO, recommend that people with asthma get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Some people report their asthma symptoms flaring up after vaccination, but there’s no scientific evidence that people with asthma are at an increased risk of vaccine side effects.

If you have asthma and have concerns about getting vaccinated, you can make an appointment with your doctor to ask any questions you may have.