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Conflict over flu guidance for asthma

GPs are faced with conflicting advice over influenza immunisation in asthma patients after the Government and GPC clashed over whether there was evidence of benefit.

Vaccination of asthma patients has been dropped from the revised QOF ­ but the Department of Health this week told Pulse it would not be changing its advice.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum earlier said there was no evidence annual flu vaccination reduced the frequency or severity of asthma exacerbations.

He said: 'There is not a lot of good evidence [flu vaccine] helps asthma.'

But the department insisted it was still recommending annual flu vaccination for individuals with asthma 'requiring continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission'.

Dr John Watson, head of the respiratory division of the Health Protection Agency Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, said: 'The view that's been taken is there's enough evidence to recommend flu vaccine for moderate or severe asthma but there isn't good evidence for mild asthma.'

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