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Vaccinations

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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 (flu)

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

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.

Vaccines for People on Dialysis

This flyer provides recommended immunizations for people on dialysis.

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Myth Busters: Vaccinations

Fact or fiction? This handout, available in English and Spanish, dispels some of the myths and highlights the facts about the Pneumonia and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

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Hepatitis B: What You Need to Know

This is a fact sheet about hepatitis B. It provides what you need to know about it and why you should get vaccinated for it. 

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Hepatitis B: What You Need to Know - Spanish

This is a fact sheet about hepatitis B. What you need to know and why you should get vaccinated.

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Take 3 Actions to Fight the Flu

This CDC brochure encourages three everyday actions to prevent the spread of flu.

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No More Excuses - You Need the Flu Shot

This is a flyer that provides reasons you need to get vaccinated.

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Pneumococcal Disease: What You Need to Know

This CDC fact sheet provides consumers with information about why they need to get vaccinated for pneumonia.

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Pneumococcal Disease: What You Need to Know - Spanish

This Spanish language CDC fact sheet provides consumers with information about why individuals need to get vaccinated for pneumonia.

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