FOR UK HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS ONLY

This section is intended for healthcare professionals and associated healthcare employees who are involved in patient care or service provision for influenza immunisation in the UK only – this includes (but is not limited to) GPs, nurses, practice managers, pharmacists, and pharmacy counter assistants.

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE

Risks from flu in people with chronic kidney disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where your kidneys do not function properly, which can gradually worsen over time.

If you have CKD at stage 3, 4 or 5 (sometimes known as Established Renal Failure or ERF), you are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill from flu than the general population1. This is because it is harder for your immune system to fight off the infection, and could lead to problems with other organs in your body1.

In fact, evidence suggests that people with chronic long-term illnesses, including kidney disease, are 11 times more likely to die as a result of complications from flu than someone with healthy kidneys not in at risk groups2.

If you catch flu while you are waiting for a transplant and a kidney becomes available, there is a risk that you may not be well enough to have the operation. So it’s really important to try and stay as healthy as possible.

 

Cold and flu medications

Some over-the-counter cold and flu medications may be unsuitable or even dangerous for people with kidney disease, depending on their ingredients. You should always ask your pharmacist, GP or specialist for advice3.

 

Protecting yourself from flu

The flu viruses predominantly circulate during the winter. So you should think about how to help protect yourself as the flu season approaches.

Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid developing the flu4, and if you have CKD at stage 3, 4 or 5, kidney failure, nephrotic syndrome or you have had a kidney transplant, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS.

If you have had a kidney transplant, you should also talk to your doctor about how best to help protect yourself from flu. This is because some of the anti-rejection medications you may need to take may also make the flu vaccine less effective5.

 

Other ways to avoid infection

You can also take additional steps, such as avoiding public transport and crowds. However, if you’re unable to avoid public places (for example, if you need to get to hospital for dialysis), use the antiseptic hand gel dispensers in the hospital regularly, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissues as quickly as possible.

Get vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally before the end of November, to ensure you’re protected right through the winter6.

 

You can get your free NHS flu vaccination* at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy, while most pharmacies in the UK also offer private jabs.

*Free NHS jabs are available only to those who fall within the current risk categories.

 

References

  1. Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee. Flu Vaccinations and Chronic Kidney Disease. Available online: http://psnc.org.uk/avon-lpc/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2015/07/Chronic-Kidney-Disease-and-Flu-Vaccine-Importance.pdf (accessed July 2018)
  2. Kidney Research UK. Kidney patients are at higher risk – don’t forget your flu jab! October 2016. Available online: https://www.kidneyresearchuk.org/news/kidney-patients-at-higher-risk–dont-forget-your-flu-jab (accessed July 2018)
  3. NHS Choices. Chronic kidney disease. Pharmacy remedies and kidney disease. August 2016. Available online:www.nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-disease/pharmacy-remedies-kidney-disease (accessed July 2018)
  4. World Health Organization. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet, January 2018. Available online: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal) (accessed July 2018)
  5. National Kidney Foundation. Flu Shot May be Less Effective after Transplant. July 2009. Available online: https://www.kidney.org/news/ekidney/july09/FluShot_july09 (accessed September 2018)
  6. Public Health England. National flu immunisation programme plan for 2018 to 2019. March 2018. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flu-immunisation-programme-plan (accessed July 2018)

Adverse Event Reporting

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE