Can suffocation caused by air pollution be relieved with vaccines?

January 18, 2024 | 03:17 pm PT
My family started experiencing respiratory issues like runny noses and breathing difficulties recently. Are these illnesses caused by the extreme fine dust situation in Hanoi? What vaccinations are recommended? (Tuyet Mai, Hanoi)


The dust clouds covering Hanoi recently have been a cause of concern for many residents. The concentration of fine dust has reached the PM2.5 level, which is 30 times higher than the warning limit set by the World Health Organization. According to the Vietnam Environment Administration, environmental pollution in Hanoi has been occurring since late November until now.

Short-term exposure to fine dust can exacerbate chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and sinusitis. Studies have shown that fine dust PM2.5 is a major contributor to nearly 4 million deaths worldwide due to cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, COPD, cancer, premature births, and more diseases it causes.

Air pollution has especially detrimental effects on infants and young children. In addition, it creates an environment conducive to the development and spread of viruses, making viral diseases more likely to outbreak.

A woman coughing. Illustration photo by Freepik

A woman coughing. Illustration photo by Freepik

Vaccines may not directly prevent our body exposure to fine dust, but they can help protect our lungs from severe infections caused by disease agents that thrive in polluted environments. Some recommended vaccines for your family to consider are influenza (flu) vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, and the 6-in-1 vaccine to prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) pneumonia in children.

The flu vaccine protects our body from infection and other complications besides pneumonia, such as sinusitis, myocarditis, and encephalitis. The pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent other dangerous diseases caused by this bacterium like middle ear infections, meningitis, and sepsis. Pertussis and 6-in-1 vaccines provide protection against six diseases simultaneously: pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, polio, and Hib.

Moreover, during periods of low air quality warnings, households should limit opening windows, regularly clean living spaces, and consider using air purifiers to help reduce fine dust. It is also advised to wear masks when going outside.

Your family members should prioritize their overall health to reduce the risk of illness and its severity. This can be achieved by staying hydrated, incorporating green vegetables into their diet, maintaining a balanced nutritional intake, keeping a healthy weight, and engaging in regular exercise. People with bacterial or viral infections in their teeth, gums, mouth, ears, nose, or throat should receive proper treatment to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses to the lower respiratory tract, which can lead to illness.

Dr. Nguyen Le Nga

Medical Management, VNVC Vaccination System

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