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Flu Shots Don't Cut Pulmonary Disease Exacerbations

Vaccine doesn't reduce flares or health-care usage in those with α1-antitrypsin deficiency

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although a large percentage of people with α1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) were vaccinated against influenza during a recent flu season, it didn't reduce their exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a report published in the January issue of Chest.

Michael A. Campos, M.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data from 939 subjects with AATD. Subjects responded to monthly interviews during the 2003-2004 flu season about their disease exacerbations and health-care usage.

Nearly 82 percent of subjects received an influenza vaccination. However, the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups had no significant differences in acute COPD exacerbation rates or severity of exacerbations. Nor did they differ in scheduled physician visits, emergency department visits or hospitalizations.

"As in regular COPD and in agreement with observations done in the United Kingdom, we found that exacerbations in subjects with AATD in the United States are more frequent during the winter months, which suggests a relation to viral infections. Accordingly, the lack of influenza vaccination effect in our cohort suggests that other, non-influenza viruses may play an important role in COPD exacerbation rates. This hypothesis will require further studying," the authors write.

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