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The Flu and COVID-19: What Kidney Patients Need to Know

If you have chronic kidney disease or CKD at any stage, you are at increased risk of serious illness or other complications if you catch the flu. Kidney transplant recipients, people on dialysis, and people with CKD are urged to get a seasonal flu shot to reduce the risk. Many people have questions about flu vaccination, so we’ve prepared the following list of frequently asked questions:

  • Should I get a flu shot? Yes, you should. If you have CKD, it’s especially important for you to protect yourself by getting vaccinated against the flu. Make sure to get the flu vaccine as an injection, not a nasal spray.

  • How is the flu different from COVID-19? Both diseases are caused by viruses, and both have similar respiratory symptoms. However, they are not caused by the same type of virus. Influenza viruses are the cause of the flu, while a new type of coronavirus is the cause of COVID-19.

  • How can I prevent getting sick? If you suffer from CKD – no matter what the stage – you are at increased risk from both the flu and COVID-19. The same is true if you have had a kidney transplant. Social distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing a protective face mask are the best ways to prevent illness other than vaccination. There is no COVID-19 vaccine at this time, but there is a flu vaccine. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.

  • Will the flu vaccine prevent me from getting COVID-19? No. As mentioned above, the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different types of viruses. The flu can only be caused by an influenza virus, and the flu vaccine can protect you against that. COVID-19 can only be caused by one specific coronavirus, for which there is not yet a vaccine. Therefore, a flu vaccine offers no protection against COVID-19.

  • Can transplant patients get a flu shot? Yes, kidney transplant patients can get a flu shot. In fact, a shot is the only way they can get vaccinated against the flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not safe for CKD patients or kidney transplant recipients.

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