New updates to the Australian Asthma Handbook were introduced to assist health professionals with appropriate management advice for patients with asthma during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
The recommendations, which are subject to change as more evidence emerges, advise health professionals to reassure their patients that having asthma (including severe asthma) or allergic rhinitis does not prevent someone having a Covid-19 vaccination or increase the risk of adverse reactions.
The update also touches on the use of monoclonal antibody therapies for asthma which do not interfere with Covid-19 vaccines and reiterates that nebulisers should not be used to administer inhaled medicines, unless unavoidable.
Professor Nick Zwar, Chair of the Guidelines Committee, says the National Asthma Council Australia is encouraging people with asthma to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“We are advising health professionals to reassure their patients that having asthma, including severe asthma, or allergic rhinitis does not prevent someone having a Covid-19 vaccination or increase the risk of adverse reactions.
“In fact, we are encouraging Australians with asthma to get the Covid-19 vaccine from their GP as soon as it is available.
“We also want to strongly encourage patients using asthma medicines to keep using them before and after they have the Covid-19 vaccination.
“This includes oral corticosteroids used short-term to manage asthma flare-ups in people with asthma, or long-term to manage severe asthma in a very small proportion of patients,” he says.
Professor Zwar also said that monoclonal antibody therapies for asthma (omalizumab, mepolizumab, benralizumab and dupilumab) – often called ‘biologics’ – do not suppress the immune system and do not interfere with Covid-19 vaccines.
“However, if possible, a monoclonal antibody therapy should not be administered on the same day as a Covid-19 vaccine so that, if there are side-effects, the cause will be easier to identify.
“We are also reminding health professionals administering Covid-19 vaccinations that they should follow guidance provided by health authorities and the product information, including precautions for people with severe allergies or a history of anaphylaxis,” he says.
Professor Zwar also says that as some Australians with asthma may need to wait some time before they are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, they should talk to their health professional about the best time for them to get the 2021 influenza vaccination.
“Health professionals should reassure their asthma patients that they don’t need to wait until they have the Covid-19 vaccine to get the flu vaccine. Given that supply of Covid-19 vaccines is limited it is likely that flu vaccine will become available first.
“GPs can also best advise their asthma patients on the recommended interval between a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine and a dose of Covid-19 vaccine,” says Professor Zwar.
View the update: asthmahandbook.org.au/management/covid-19-2