People with asthma are being encouraged to get their free flu vaccination as soon as possible.
NHS England and Public Health England have issued the advice as part of this year’s Stay Well This Winter campaign.
Figures show that 90 per cent of asthma sufferers say viruses like colds and flu can trigger their asthma symptoms.
Professor Chris Gray, NHS England’s medical director for Cumbria and the North East, said: “If someone with asthma gets flu, it can cause the lining of their airways to swell and narrow, and become even more sensitive.
“This can make asthma symptoms worse and can increase the risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
“If you have asthma and have been invited by your GP to get the flu jab, the sooner you have it the better, as it takes up to two weeks for people to be fully protected by the vaccine.
“By protecting yourself, you are also protecting your family and friends.”
Other groups eligible for the free flu vaccine include adults 65 and over; people with certain long-term health conditions; pregnant woman; children aged two and three; and school children up to Year 4.
Glen Wilson, a consultant in public health and the screening and immunisation lead for NHS England Cumbria and North East, said: “Asthma attacks hospitalise someone every eight minutes in the UK. The simple act of getting the flu vaccine can help prevent some of these admissions.”
Asthma UK’s in-house GP, Dr Andy Whittamore, said: “If you have asthma and have been invited by your GP to have the flu jab you should act now and arrange to have the vaccine.
“This is especially important if you have severe asthma or have been prescribed a preventer inhaler, or have needed steroid tablets in the last year.”