Health experts and charities in Wales are urging people with chronic kidney disease and care workers to get protected against flu as soon as possible.
People who suffer from chronic kidney disease are at a higher risk of becoming very ill with flu than the general population that’s why it’s so important that they have the free NHS vaccine. Most recent figures show that only around half the people in this clinical risk group have received the free NHS flu vaccine since October 2015, well below the Welsh Government’s 75% uptake target.
This means that although almost 8,000 people with kidney conditions have received the vaccine, many people in this group have missed out and have not protected themselves against flu with a flu vaccine yet this winter.
Healthcare and social care workers also urged to get flu vaccine
Healthcare and social care workers with direct patient contact and carers are also recommended to have a flu vaccination, to protect them and the people they care for. Health and social care workers should speak to their employer about getting the vaccine.
“Kidney Wales supports the NHS flu vaccine and believes that patients should protect themselves as soon as they can,” said Roy Thomas, CEO of Kidney Wales Foundation.
"We know that patients with long term kidney conditions are more vulnerable to infections and with flu cases currently increasing across Wales, it's really important to take advantage of the free vaccine by making an appointment with your GP now. It's not too late to get protected this winter."
'Kidney patients with chronic kidney disease eligible for free flu vaccine'
The NHS flu vaccine is available free to people who have:
- chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5, chronic kidney failure
- nephrotic syndrome
- a kidney transplant
It is also available for people with other long-term health conditions where there is an increased risk of complications if they catch flu including respiratory illnesses, heart and liver disease, diabetes and certain neurological conditions such as stroke or mini stroke (TIA).
Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, echoed the call for action for those in at risk groups to protect themselves against the illness. He said, “Flu vaccination remains the single best way to protect against flu, and can be given to those in risk groups from 6 months of age.
“I would urge all those people in at risk groups to remember that it’s too late to get their free flu vaccine and be protected. It’s also important for anyone in a risk group who does develop symptoms of flu to seek early advice on treatment and try to reduce the risk of spreading flu.”
Those in ‘at risk’ groups who think they have flu are advised to contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales (0845 46 47) for advice as soon as the symptoms start as medication may be recommended.
People at high risk of complications from flu can be offered anti-viral drugs which may reduce the risk of serious complications if started within two days of the first symptoms.