4 MAY 2021 - WORLD ASTHMA DAY -  The Asthma Society of Ireland today shared the findings of patient and carer research which highlighted 90% of people with asthma would accept a COVID-19 vaccination, but that only 31% were vaccinated to date despite living with a respiratory illness.

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.  Worryingly, 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.

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.  Unfortunately this is far from the case and, on average, one person in Ireland dies every week as a result of their asthma. 

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.

It is essential that patients are in control of their condition and know what to do in an emergency, especially in the current environment.  Only 30% of respondents knew the Five Step Rule required to manage an asthma attack. This urgently needs to be addressed in order to prevent further asthma deaths.
We urge 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.

We are also appealing to you to donate what you can to help keep the Asthma Society’s crucial patient support services going.  Donate today via'


The survey found that top sources of information for people living with asthma amid the pandemic were: 1) 2) Television news 3) 4) WHO 5) Radio and 6) GPs. 

For further expert advice on living well with asthma, the Asthma Society is urging you to register for the free Love Your Lungs Asthma Virtual Conference, supported by GSK, which takes place online tomorrow, Wednesday 5th May from 13.00- 14.30.  Featuring healthcare experts like Dr Marcus Butler, Respiratory Consultant at St Vincent's University Hospital; Dr. Dermot Nolan, GP and Asthma Specialist Advisor to the HSE and the Asthma Society; Dr Des Cox, Head of Respiratory at CHI Crumlin; and Ruth Morrow, Respiratory Nurse Specialist at the Asthma Society, the event aims to support asthma patients through the unique challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to provide expert respiratory advice and lifestyle suggestions, and encourage best practice asthma management. 

The Love Your Lungs Asthma Conference will also share the stories of asthma patients like 22 year old severe asthma patient Rebecca Houlihan from Portarlington, Co. Laois.  Due to asthma related complications, Rebecca has been in and out of hospital frequently and has been cocooning with severe asthma for much of the past year.  She recently had her first COVID-19 vaccination and looks forward to soon resuming a normal life.  A Q&A section will also be held with the panel with an opportunity for attendees to ‘ask the expert’ of their choosing.  To register for the free event, visit


The Asthma Society Love Your Lungs Virtual Challenge is ongoing throughout Asthma Awareness Week (1 - 8 May 2021).  We’re asking you to support the Asthma Society’s crucial services by signing up to our ‘Love Your Lungs’ virtual fundraiser, kindly supported by ALK.  Supporters are asked to Stroll, Stretch or Stride 5K, 10k or 15k steps a day on behalf of the Asthma Society to help us smash our target of over 10 million steps.  Participants are asked to register to participate via for the entry fee of €15 (which is donated to the Asthma Society), and fundraise on our behalf through iDonate.  If any person, for health or other reasons, can’t walk or run, they can still log whatever steps they can manage or can simply donate via

For more information about what’s taking place during Asthma Awareness Week 2021, please visit or keep an eye on our social channels.

For media queries, or interviews with Asthma Society CEO Sarah O’Connor, Patient Advocates or Respiratory Consultant and Asthma Society Medical Director, Dr. Marcus Butler, please contact:
Laura Greer, Etch Communications on 086 960 5600,

About the Asthma Society of Ireland:
The Asthma Society of Ireland’s mission is to stop asthma deaths in Ireland. We are the voice of the 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland, and our work radically transforms their quality of life. We fight asthma with every breath. Our vision is that everyone with asthma in Ireland lives a full life, symptom-free.

1. We champion change by advocating to prevent asthma deaths.
2. We communicate about asthma to ensure it is taken seriously as a health challenge.
3. We support services for all people with asthma, empowering them to control the condition and providing health promotion programmes which deliver impactful asthma interventions.
4. We learn together and collaborate with healthcare, research and education professionals (and always with patients) to improve our understanding of how asthma works and how to combat it.
5. We build our capacity to deliver for patients by growing and diversifying our funding streams, by innovating and by being best-in-class as a charity.

About the Asthma Adviceline
The Asthma Adviceline is available on 1800 44 54 64.
The Adviceline is proven to have a positive impact on the health of people with asthma, with appointments tailored to the needs of each caller. The Adviceline respiratory specialist nurses work through every aspect of life with asthma: what to do in the event of an asthma attack, answering questions after a GP or consultant appointment, dealing with triggers that may be bringing on asthma symptoms, and helping users put together an Asthma Action Plan to self-manage their condition. After speaking to one of the Adviceline nurses, users will be fully equipped with the information and skills they need to improve their health and stay as well as possible. 

Callers can book a free call back appointment by calling the freephone number between 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to Friday. The Asthma Society then arranges a nurse appointment at a time that suits the patient.

In 2019, the Asthma Adviceline was awarded an independent quality mark by the Helplines Partnership, one of only three helplines in Ireland to have achieved this standard.

About the Asthma WhatsApp Messaging Service
We also offer a Sláintecare funded Asthma WhatsApp text service, which allows patients with asthma, and their family and carers, to text 086 059 0132 for real-time one to one communications with an asthma nurse about all aspects of their disease management.

About Asthma
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of varying severity that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry the air in and out of the lungs.  People with asthma have airways that are extra sensitive to substances (or triggers), which irritate them. Common triggers include cold and flu, cigarette smoke, exercise and allergic responses to pollen, furry or feathery animals or house-dust mites.

When the airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways swells and produces sticky mucus.  As the airways narrow, it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out. That is why people with asthma wheeze and find breathing difficult.

Whilst there is no cure, asthma can be controlled by avoiding triggers and by the use of ‘reliever’ and ‘controller’ medication. Relievers are medicines that people with asthma take immediately when asthma symptoms appear. Controllers help calm the airways and stop them from being so sensitive. Talk to your GP or asthma nurse about which treatment is most suitable for you.  All patients with asthma are also advised to have a tailored Asthma Action Plan, a crucial part of patient self-management, which helps patients control their asthma.