People with heart or kidney problems in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are being urged to have the free flu vaccine this winter. These patients are likely to be at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from the flu than the general population.
Dr Robert Lewis, consultant kidney specialist and Director of the Wessex Kidney Centre in Portsmouth said: “The risk of serious illness from flu is higher among people with heart or kidney diseases. This is because they often have other underlying health problems (such as diabetes) or may need to take medicines which affect the normal functioning of the immune system.
“A flu infection in people living with these conditions is more likely to be serious. In the worst cases, it can result in admission to hospital and can even be fatal. Patients should minimise their risk of serious complications by having the flu vaccination which is free and easily obtainable from their GP or pharmacy.”
Flu is highly infectious and caused by viruses that spread from person to person. The viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually. The symptoms, which can come on very quickly, included fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles and extreme tiredness.
Many people think having the flu is like having a bad cold, but in reality, flu is a nasty respiratory virus that can make people feel very unwell, and for anyone with chronic kidney disease, it makes fighting off infections much harder and can lead to problems with other organs in the body. Some of these complications can be life-threatening.
Other groups at risk of complications from the flu include the over 65s, pregnant women and people with long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, respiratory problems and liver disease. Those who care for patients suffering from serious conditions are also eligible to receive the free flu vaccination.