Vaccinations for ESRD Patients
When you are on dialysis, you are at a higher risk of getting sick with diseases such as the flu, Hepatitis B, and pneumonia. Your best protection against these diseases is to receive a vaccination. Most dialysis facilities offer free vaccinations, or can work with you to find out where you can get them at little to no cost.
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is an acute virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu has symptoms similar to a cold: fever, aches and pains, weakness, coughing, and breathing problems. However, the flu can lead to pneumonia or death. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year.
About the flu vaccine:
- A flu shot is very safe, and will help protect you for the whole flu season (which can last from October through May).
- Get a flu shot early in the flu season to give it time to work.
- Each year the flu virus changes, so you need a new flu shot every year—even if you had the flu last year.
- A flu vaccine can also help to prevent pneumonia.
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a serious liver infection caused by a virus. Since HBV is spread through contact with blood or body fluids, dialysis patients are at high risk.
About the Hepatitis B vaccine:
- The Hepatitis B vaccine is safe, effective, and your best protection against this disease.
- Your doctor will test your blood to see if you need this vaccine. If you had Hepatitis B (and you may not know) you don’t need the vaccine.
- A series of 3 or 4 Hepatitis B shots is needed to protect you. Some people may need additional doses.
- In addition to preventing Hepatitis B, the Hepatitis B vaccine can also protect against a form of liver cancer.
Pneumonia and Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumonia is a lung infection. It can be caused by a virus, or by bacteria. Bacterial pneumonia can develop on its own or can develop after a severe cold or the flu. Pneumococcal disease kills more people in the United States than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.
Pneumonia can cause:
- High fever
- Cough, shortness of breath
- Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood)
- Meningitis (brain infection)
About the Pneumonia (or Pneumococcal) vaccine:
- There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines available for adults: PPSV23 and aPCV13.
- Adults with ESRD need to receive both vaccines initially, and then need to be re-vaccinated in five years.
- Getting a flu vaccine can help prevent pneumonia, but patients with ESRD need to receive BOTH the flu and pneumococcal vaccines.
- You cannot get pneumonia from the pneumococcal vaccine.