The annual flu immunisation programme in Wales is now underway in time for the coming flu season – and those with chronic kidney disease are being urged by authorities to take up their free vaccination as soon as possible.

Last year, only half (54.2%) of those with chronic kidney disease protected themselves against what can be a deadly virus, which can and does kill every year. People particularly ‘at risk’ of flu and its complications are given the vaccine at no cost: it takes a minute, lasts a year, but could save your life.

People with long term health conditions such as chronic kidney disease – as well as those aged 65 or over and pregnant women – are urged to protect themselves as early as possible and before flu starts circulating widely. Health officials warn that even if you had the vaccine last year, the flu virus changes every year so you must have it again now in order to be protected.

Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Programme at Public Health Wales, explains why people with chronic kidney disease must not delay and make an appointment with their doctor today: “Flu is a serious illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. For people with underlying health conditions, flu can even be deadly.

“Flu cannot be treated, but it can be prevented by having the vaccine. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk by missing this potentially life-saving opportunity.”

Roy J Thomas of Kidney Wales Foundation said “Kidney patients and others are at the risk end of having flu and we urge those who are thinking of a flu vaccination to do so now or if in doubt consult the doctor. It is the only safe way as it is no use leaving matters to chance.”

Every year flu circulates but every year thousands of people who are at a heightened risk of serious side effects fail to protect themselves for free. Join the pledge to beat flu, and protect yourself now.
You can find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org.uk or www.curwchffliw.org.uk, or finding them on twitter and facebook.