Should Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Get A Flu Shot? Facts And Misconceptions About The Vaccine

Image Courtesy of WBNS TV

Image Courtesy of WBNS TV

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Most Chronic Kidney Disease patients know that their immune system is generally weaker due to Chronic Kidney Disease itself. With the number of dangerous infections, germs, and diseases going around, a shot to reduce the likelihood of contracting at least one harmful complication should be a relief to most, right? Not exactly. 

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You may be surprised to learn that based upon some accounts, as much as half (50%) of those with Chronic Kidney Disease go completely without an annual (yearly) Flu Shot. What's worse is that the flu is 3 to 4 times more likely to cause a worsening of chronic health conditions such as Chronic Kidney Disease. WebMD noted that, "Each year in the U.S., about 3,000 to 49,000 people die from causes related to Influenza (the Flu) and over 200,000 are hospitalized due to complications from [the] Flu." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that "People with chronic health conditions" specifically those with "kidney problems," are at high risk of having problems associated with the Flu. 

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With this in mind, for most, taking a Flu Shot is best. In fact, many professionals advise Chronic Kidney Disease patients to take their Flu Shots as soon as possible because they take about 2 weeks to begin working. Common misconceptions, however, such as how effective and how safe the shots are - is part of a larger misunderstanding about the Flu in general. 

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If Chronic Kidney Disease patients believe myths such as a Flu Shot can actually give a person the Flu, they may not take the shot to be on the "safe side" of things. In actuality, "You can’t get it from an inactivated vaccine,” said Betty Voordouw (Medicines Evaluation Board in the Netherlands). The most common side effects from the Influenza Shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.

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Another common misconception is that a Chronic Kidney Disease patient does not need a Flu Vaccine every year. Quite the contrary. CDC recommends a yearly Flu Shot for just about everyone 6 months and older because a person's immune protection from the vaccination declines over time. Thus, an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” (best )protection against the Flu.

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Have you heard the myth about getting an allergic reaction? Well, serious allergic reactions to Flu Vaccines are very rare. If a life-threatening reaction does occur, it usually happens within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination, and effective treatments are available.

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Still, Chronic Kidney Disease patients should not be overly confident with their Flu Shot. Its effectiveness has been placed in the 70% to 90% range. Hence, be sure to use due caution to avoid getting sick such as: Staying away from sick people, washing your hands thoroughly with soap, making sure Dialysis Technicians and Hospital Personnel wear fresh gloves, and avoiding large crowds.

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You should also know that there is no evidence which demonstrates any benefit from taking more than one (1) Flu Shot during an Influenza Season. This includes people with weakened immune systems like Chronic Kidney Disease patients. Remember to stay informed and help improve your health outcomes by visiting KidneyBuzz.com every day - the leading and trusted resource for Daily News & Information which teaches Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetics how to better manage their lives.

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References:

"Flu and Chronic Medical Conditions: Asthma, Emphysema, HIV, and More."Http://www.webmd.com. WebMD.

"6 Common Misconceptions about the Flu–and Flu Shots | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network." Http://blogs.scientificamerican.com. Scientific American Global RSS.

"Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines." Http://www.cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.