Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of chronic (long-term) lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These lung conditions make it difficult to expel air from the lungs. COPD is progressive. This means it gets worse over time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost
Because COPD impairs breathing, contracting a respiratory infection can have serious consequences for people with COPD. But there are vaccines available that can help prevent some of these infections.
- being placed on a ventilator
The study also found that people with COPD were more likely to have other health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19, including:
The American Lung Association also encourages people with chronic lung diseases like COPD to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help prevent severe illness.
There are three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States:
- Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine
- Moderna mRNA vaccine
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J) adenovirus vector vaccine
According to the
Booster shots from an mRNA vaccine are also
Anyone who received a J&J vaccine and then a booster with a second dose of J&J can also get a second booster with one of the mRNA vaccines.
Adults over the age of 50 and people with
Having COPD also increases your risk of potentially serious complications from the flu. During recent flu seasons,
A 2019 study evaluated 4,755 hospitalized people who also had COPD. In this group, having the flu was associated with an increased risk of critical illness or death. But receiving the flu vaccine was associated with a 38 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can cause pneumonia. Older adults, especially those with chronic lung conditions like COPD, are at an
Vaccination for pneumococcal disease in adults typically includes one dose of the PCV20 vaccine. But a dose of the PCV15 vaccine followed by a dose of the PPSV23 vaccine a year later may also be used.
A 2017 review looked at 12 studies on pneumococcal vaccines in people with COPD. The review found that vaccination:
- helped protect against community-acquired pneumonia
- reduced the likelihood of COPD exacerbation
The Tdap vaccine is used to help prevent:
It has traditionally been used to help prevent whooping cough (pertussis) in children younger than 6. But as of 2005, it has become available for adults, including those who have COPD.
A 2021 study also found that people with COPD in the United Kingdom needed additional medical care and incurred higher costs from pertussis infections.
People are much more likely to get shingles as they get older. The
A 2018 studyof nearly 2.3 million people in Spain found that people with COPD were
Since your immune system tends to become weaker with age, shingles can be even more dangerous if you already have symptoms or complications related to COPD, especially because people with COPD can develop shingles more easily.
If you have COPD, getting a respiratory infection can make your symptoms worse. This is called COPD exacerbation and can make it much harder for you to breathe.
COPD exacerbations can sometimes be treated at home. But people with more severe COPD may need to be hospitalized. This can involve the use of oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation to help your body get enough oxygen.
Some other potential complications that can happen due to respiratory infections in people with COPD include:
- Pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) to swell or fill with liquid.
- Pleural effusion. Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid in the tissues between the lungs and the chest wall.
- Lung abscess. A lung abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in your lungs, often due to a bacterial infection.
- Sepsis. Sepsis is a life threatening bodily response to an infection.
- Respiratory failure. With respiratory failure, your lungs cannot get enough oxygen to your blood or cannot remove enough carbon dioxide from the blood.
Respiratory infections can cause potentially serious complications in people with COPD. But some of these infections are preventable through vaccination.
Public health experts recommend that people with COPD get certain vaccines to help reduce the likelihood of serious respiratory complications. These vaccines include those for:
- the flu
- pneumococcal disease
- herpes zoster (shingles)
If you have COPD, talk with a doctor about your current vaccinations. They can let you know which vaccines you may need and when you should receive them.