Where COVID Vaccinations Rates Have Been High, Fewer Kids Have Asthma Symptoms

asthma inhaler
Adobe Stock

Key Takeaways

  • Children with asthma benefit from higher rates of COVID vaccination

  • They have fewer symptoms on average in states with higher vaccination rates

  • Herd immunity or personal vaccination might protect them from asthma symptoms

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Children with asthma have fewer symptoms in states with high rates of COVID-19 vaccination, a new study says.

States with the highest COVID vaccination rates experienced a 1.7 percentage point decrease in childhood asthma symptoms between 2018-19 and 2020-21, researchers said.

That’s nearly three times the rate in states with the lowest vaccination rates, which experienced an average asthma symptom decrease of 0.6 percentage points during the same period.

“Asthma is one of the most common chronic illnesses among children in the United States, with about 4.7 million children experiencing symptoms each year,” lead researcher Dr. Matthew Davis, chief scientific officer of Nemours Children’s Health, said in a news release.

“Whether asthma is mild or severe, it affects children’s quality of life,” Davis said. “So anything we can do to help kids avoid flare-ups is beneficial.”

During the early months of the pandemic in 2020, social distancing and school closures are thought to have resulted in fewer flares of asthma for many children, researchers said in background notes.

To see if that benefit extended into 2021 following the deployment of COVID vaccines, researchers looked at state rates of parent-reported childhood asthma symptoms in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

They then compared those asthma symptoms to state COVID vaccination rates for people 5 and older in 2020-21.

They found that for each 10-percentage-point increase in COVID vaccination coverage, there was an average 0.36 percentage point decrease in childhood asthma symptoms.

Several factors could contribute to this reduction, researchers said.

Herd immunity could have reduced children’s risk of contracting COVID, which would have worsened their asthma, researchers said.

It’s also possible that kids in states with high rates of vaccination were more likely to get the jab as soon as it was approved for their age group.

These results also raise the possibility that COVID vaccinations might help fight other illnesses that stem from coronaviruses, including the common cold, researchers said.

“Ongoing vaccination against COVID-19 may offer direct benefits for children with a history of asthma, but this must be confirmed with further research,” researcher Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani, chief clinical officer of Endeavor Health in Evanston, Ill., said in a news release.

“It also raises the question of whether broader population-level COVID-19 vaccination among children and adults can help protect children with asthma, too,” Halasyamani added.

The new study was published July 3 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

More information

Johns Hopkins Medicine has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: Nemours Children’s Health, news release, July 3, 2024

What This Means For You

COVID vaccination can help children avoid asthma attacks and other asthma symptoms.

Related Stories

No stories found.