WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Worldwide news broadcasts and headlines are filled these days with reports of the deadly Ebola virus. Yet most Americans are far more likely to be affected by the common seasonal flu, a contagious respiratory illness carried by airborne viruses and spread by sneezing and coughing, which each year infects millions of people in this country and causes more than 200,000 to be hospitalized.
For most people, the flu’s symptoms of fatigue, fever, chills, aches, congestion and coughing go away within one to two weeks. But for vulnerable segments of the population such as people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney failure, their condition, and the demands of their life-sustaining treatment, leave them at greater risk for influenza and a variety of flu-related complications.
That’s why Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, is strongly urging anyone with CKD, kidney failure or other chronic health issues to protect themselves by getting a flu vaccination every year.
“Complications from the flu pose a health risk to people who have chronic illnesses such as CKD and kidney failure,” says Dugan W. Maddux, M.D., vice president of chronic kidney disease initiatives at FMCNA. “The best way to reduce that risk is for everyone – especially kidney patients and their caregivers – to get vaccinated against the flu.”
FMCNA’s 4 Simple Truths about the Flu Vaccine
1. The flu shot CANNOT give you the flu. Some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms after getting a flu shot. The vaccine, however, cannot give you the flu.
2. A flu shot is needed every year for protection against the flu. Flu viruses do not stay the same. Each year the vaccine is updated to protect against the most common viruses around. This is why you need a flu vaccination each year.
3. The flu shot is safe. Over the past 50 years hundreds of millions of people have safely received the vaccine. If you’re concerned, check with your doctor before getting the flu shot.
4. The flu is highly contagious and can lead to hospitalization. It is spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact.
To help “Slug the Bug,” FMCNA has launched a company-wide program to offer flu shots to all 180,000 patients who receive care at FMCNA dialysis facilities, and to the company’s more than 50,000 employees across the country, at no cost to the recipients. In addition, FMCNA will donate $1 for every patient and employee vaccinated through this program, to be allocated among charities supporting renal patients, and to the FMCNA CARES employee emergency relief fund.
To call attention to the importance of flu vaccinations, FMCNA also is reaching out to kidney disease organizations and other groups representing vulnerable populations across the country with its flu-shot awareness campaign to encourage all at-risk individuals to be vaccinated annually.
FMCNA is committed to ensuring the health of its staff and patients during flu season by offering vaccinations at no cost and practicing effective infection control. Patients should inquire at their local dialysis clinics for locations and times of specific vaccination opportunities. For more information on flu prevention, visit www.slugthebug.com.
About Fresenius Medical Care North America
Through its leading network of more than 2,150 dialysis facilities in North America and vascular access centers, laboratory, pharmacy and affiliated hospitals and nephrology practices, Fresenius Medical Care provides renal services to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. It is also the continent’s top producer of dialysis equipment, dialyzers and related disposable products and a major supplier of renal pharmaceuticals.