The Asthma Society of Ireland said that while 90% of people with asthma would accept a Covid-19 vaccination, only 31% were vaccinated to date despite living with a respiratory illness.
According to the society, 50% of those surveyed had had an asthma attack in the past year, 14% had experienced an attack in the past four weeks alone, 19% in the past six months and a further 16% in the past 12 months. Furthermore, 26% of respondents said that they had avoided attending A&E with their asthma despite experiencing these asthma emergencies.
71% of those surveyed said that they were concerned about contracting a more severe form of Covid-19 as a result of their asthma. This may account for the fact that 38% also admitted that they have avoided support or healthcare services in the past year as they were concerned about the health impact of Covid-19.
Living with a respiratory illness amid the pandemic has taken its toll on the 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland. 56% of respondents felt there was not enough detailed information amid the pandemic for people living with respiratory conditions and 36% reported experiencing mental health challenges as a result of the prolonged lockdown.
Every respondent surveyed (or the person they were caring for) was on asthma medication but 19% reported being more careful to take it as prescribed since the outbreak of the pandemic and 13% had had their medication increased by their GP since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society said the past year has been a particularly worrying time for those with asthma and their families.
“As Covid-19 is a respiratory illness, it is vital that people with asthma are in control of their condition. This is why Asthma Awareness Week 2021’s overarching objective is to focus on the importance of good asthma management to prevent asthma deaths,” she said.
“We are pleased to release our AstraZeneca supported research on World Asthma Day, as part of Asthma Awareness Week 2021, but we were very concerned at some of the findings. Taken as a whole, the research does not paint a picture of Ireland as being an ‘asthma friendly’ or an ‘asthma safe’ country.”
Every single person surveyed was on asthma medication but 80% felt that their asthma was not considered to be a life threatening condition by the general public, Ms O’Connor said.
“Unfortunately this is far from the case and, on average, one person in Ireland dies every week as a result of their asthma,” she said.
“Only 20% of people felt their condition was taken seriously as an illness by family and friends and just 13% felt it was taken seriously as an illness at work. We really need to change these attitudes as Ireland has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world with 1 in 10 children and 1 in 13 adults living with the condition.”
This urgently needs to be addressed in order to prevent further asthma deaths, she added.
“We are urging the Irish public, as part of Asthma Awareness Week 2021, to attend tomorrow’s Love Your Lungs Asthma Virtual Conference – this is a free informational event with expert healthcare speakers and patients who will be sharing information and their experiences. Education and support is urgently needed for people to live well with asthma.”
The society is also seeking donations to keep its crucial patient support services going. Donate today via asthma.ie/donate.