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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Kidney patients urged to get flu vaccine

28 October 2019

If you have an underlying health condition the best thing you can do to protect yourself against flu is get the vaccine.

This is the advice from health officials as the flu season gets under way.

Dr John Rodriguez, Screening and Immunisation Lead for Kent, Surrey and Sussex said: “Flu is a serious illness and even more so for people with underlying health conditions. If you get flu on top of diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease or if you’ve had a stroke, it can easily develop into something very serious and mean you have to go into hospital.

“People with chronic health conditions are also much more likely to develop serious complications like pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain and muscle tissues and even multi-organ failure.

“That’s why I would urge patients to have the vaccine as soon as possible, to give themselves the best chance of immunity before the flu virus begins actively circulating in the community.”

Kirsty Biss, a 27-year-old singer from Brighton, has had her annual flu vaccination. Kirsty was born with an illness called cystinosis – a very rare condition that causes crystals to form in the organs and ultimately leads to kidney failure. She said: “Before my kidney transplant earlier this year I had kidney failure and was on dialysis for three years. When I was on dialysis I was immunosuppressed, which meant I was at greater risk of catching and developing very serious complications from common illnesses like flu.

Kirsty Biss
Kirsty Biss

“Although I had a kidney transplant in February, I am still more likely than most to catch the flu and develop complications like multi-organ failure. After waiting for so long for a functioning kidney, I don’t want flu to be the thing that catches me out.”

Last year only 46.6 per cent of people in Surrey and Sussex with long term conditions like Kirsty had their flu vaccination. When asked why she thinks people don’t get vaccinated, Kirsty said: “I think a lot of people who live with kidney failure or kidney disease want to distance themselves from the medical world when they’re feeling well. But get yourself vaccinated, it’s worth taking the time out of your day to save yourself the hassle, pain and risk of suffering the consequences from catching the flu.

“I also think a lot of people forget – so please, remind eligible friends, family and colleagues to protect themselves and get vaccinated against flu.”

People with chronic conditions can have the vaccine free of charge, via their GP surgery or pharmacy.

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