8. COPD and Vaccines

Each year, thousands of adults in the United States get sick from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at higher risk for serious problems from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. Complications could include worsening of symptoms, hospitalizations, and even death. Talking with your health care provider about getting vaccinated is an important part of staying healthy and managing the disease.

Why Are Vaccines Important?

  • COPD causes airways to swell and become blocked with mucus, which can make it hard to breathe. Certain vaccine-preventable diseases can also increase swelling of airways and lungs. The combination of the two can lead to pneumonia and other serious respiratory illnesses, even if the condition is mild and symptoms are controlled.
  • Vaccinations provide the best protection against preventable diseases such as the flu – or influenza – and pneumococcal disease.
  • Vaccinations are a safe way to protect your health, even if you are taking prescription medications. Side effects are usually mild and go away on their own and severe side effects are very rare.

What Vaccines Do You Need?

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people with or at risk for COPD get a yearly flu (influenza) vaccine.
  • People with chronic lung disease, including COPD, should also get pneumococcal vaccines; once as an adult before 65 years old and twice at 65 years or older.
  • Your health care provider may recommend additional vaccines based on your lifestyle, travel habits, and other factors.

Getting Vaccinated

Talk to your health care provider about which vaccines you need to stay healthy. For more information on vaccines, visit cdc.gov/vaccines/adults.

Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and other locations. To find a place near you, go to vaccinefinder.org.

Most health insurance plans cover recommended vaccines. Check with your insurance provider for details and for a list of vaccine providers covered by your plan. For more information about COPD, visit COPD.nhlbi.nih.gov.

Information courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.