Following the latest figures for deaths from swine flu from the Public Health Agency Asthma UK Northern Ireland is urging parents of children with asthma to have their children vaccinated.

According to Public Health Agency, 17 people have died of swine flu in Northern Ireland this season. Joan O'Hagan, Director of Asthma UK Northern Ireland said: 'We urge the 182,000 people with asthma in Northern Ireland to have the swine flu vaccine. Although swine flu is mild in most cases, people with asthma are at risk of serious breathing complications such as pneumonia if they do develop the illness.'

The free seasonal flu vaccine includes protection against swine flu. People with asthma should be invited to their GP practice to receive the vaccine. If this has not happened, they are advised to contact their GP practice to schedule a vaccination.

The vaccine should also be available from most pharmacies. However, some high-street pharmacy chains, such as Boots, Sainsbury's and Tesco, will not provide the vaccine to anyone under 16. Parents of children with asthma are advised to check with their local pharmacies.

Parents of children with asthma should take further precautions, including ensuring that their children attend a twice-yearly asthma review and have an up-to-date Personal Asthma Action Plan, which gives information on what to do if their asthma gets worse. Parents should also find out if their child's school has an asthma policy in place.

Children and teachers suffering from flu have been urged to stay at home. Swine flu is spread by droplets from talking, coughing or sneezing and contact with those droplets on surfaces. Parents of children with asthma should make sure their children understand the importance of coughing or sneezing into a tissue, which they can then put in the bin, and then washing their hands thoroughly.

Asthma UK

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