“Vaping causes a change of events in your lungs. It's impairing your immunity and lung function to fight infection and bacteria and we know that it does change the lungs after one use,” Dr. Brandon Hooks, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, told local news station WWMT.
Though research is still needed to understand the long term effects of vaping, which is linked to more than a dozen fatalities across the country, one 2018 study found the vapor from e-cigarettes impairs key immune cells in the lungs. The same study also found the vapor also increased the production of inflammatory chemicals.
The inflammation may make the lungs more susceptible to harmful bacteria and viruses, Hooks said.
"The flu is a very serious thing, bottom line," he added. "I think we underestimate the flu a lot, but if your immune system is down, this could increase your chances of the flu turning into pneumonia."
Though the 2019-2020 flu season is only just beginning, the virus has already claimed the life of at least one person this year. Health officials are urging everyone — especially the young, the elderly and those whose immune systems are compromised — to get a flu shot as soon as possible.
Separately, the CDC in a recent report said most pregnant women aren’t getting the flu and whooping cough vaccines, both of which are important for the health of the mother and her unborn child.