Health leaders are reminding people with chronic kidney disease in south Staffordshire to have their free ‘flu jab if they haven’t already as winter begins to grip.
As Christmas creeps closer the ‘flu season begins to take hold - particularly when the temperature drops and winter illnesses start to circulate. This is why Stafford and Surrounds, Cannock Chase and South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Groups are calling on patients to take precautions.
Chronic kidney disease covers a range of conditions and those with more severe stages, such as nephrotic syndrome or a kidney transplant are eligible for a ‘flu vaccination. If you think you have an undiagnosed medical condition affecting your kidneys, you should talk to your GP or practice nurse to find out if you need a ‘flu vaccination.
If you suffer from an underlying health condition, you are more susceptible to ‘flu, and if you catch it you are more likely to die, according to the World Health Organisation 1. Therefore it is important to have the ‘flu jab as soon as you can.
The ‘flu jab is available from your GP and your local pharmacy. You will need to make an appointment, so be sure to call ahead.
Speaking on behalf of the CCGs, Dr Paddy Hannigan, Clinical Chair at Stafford and Surrounds CCG, said: “If you suffer from chronic kidney disease, you are more susceptible to ‘flu and infections such as pneumonia. This is because your immune system is less effective. The best protection we have against the ‘flu is the vaccination.
“Many people think that the ‘flu is like a bad cold. However, it is a respiratory virus which can make you very unwell. Having chronic kidney disease puts you at high risk of infection, which is the second most common cause of death in chronic kidney disease patients. You can dramatically reduce this risk by having the ‘flu jab, and this will also reduce the likelihood of needing to go to hospital.
“My advice for anyone who has chronic kidney disease, or any underlying health condition, is to get your ‘flu jab now as it takes up to two weeks to take effect.”
The ‘flu vaccination is most effective when administered every year. ‘Flu strains can change and the jab is adjusted accordingly, meaning that last year’s jab may not be effective with this year’s ‘flu. You will not catch ‘flu from having the jab, as the vaccination does not contain a live virus.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell
Note to editors
‘Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following ‘at-risk’ groups:
• All those aged two, three, and four years (but not five years or older) on 31 August 2016 (i.e. date of birth on or after 1 September 2011 and on or before 31 August 2014) through general practice
• All children of appropriate age for school years 1, 2 and 3 age through locally commissioned arrangements
• All primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas
• People aged from six months to less than 65 years of age with a serious medical condition such as: chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis.
• chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
• chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five
• chronic liver disease
• chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, or learning disability
• splenic dysfunction
• a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
• All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the ‘flu season)
• People aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2017)
• people living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
• People who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
• consideration should also be given to the vaccination of household contacts of immunocompromised individuals, specifically individuals who expect to share living accommodation on most days over the winter and, therefore, for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable
The list above is not exhaustive, and the healthcare practitioner should apply clinical judgement to take into account the risk of ‘flu exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from ‘flu itself. ‘Flu vaccine should be offered in such cases even if the individual is not in the clinical risk groups specified above.
• 1 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/
• Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-plan-winter-2016-to-2017
Flu Annual Report 2015/16 - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-flu-reports