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Immunization is key for the kidney community

This blog is co-authored by the representatives from the Northwest Kidney Council (NWKC) and Boost Oregon. The NWKC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safety and access to quality care for the kidney community in Oregon and Washington, and Boost Oregon empowers people to make science-based vaccine decisions for themselves, their families, and the community.

The month of August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and with COVID cases creeping up again in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great reminder to get your COVID vaccine if you haven’t already – or your booster, if you’re eligible. Without a doubt, the vaccine protects you and your family.


Kidney patients spend enough time in hospitals, dialysis centers and doctors’ offices – you don’t need a stay in the intensive care unit too. Even for people without kidney disease, COVID can cause harm to your kidneys and lead to dialysis. According to Johns Hopkins University, “more than 30% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 develop kidney injury, and more than 50% of patients in the intensive care unit with kidney injury may require dialysis.”


Learn more about this common COVID complication here.


Like with all immunosuppressed patients, folks with end stage renal disease (ESRD) are more vulnerable to the harshest symptoms of COVID. For more than two years, this community has had to take extra precautions to stay safe and healthy. That is why it’s critical to get vaccinated and encourage your friends and families – including those six months and older – to get their shots too.


But it’s not only COVID that the kidney community needs to keep in mind when considering immunizations. With fall approaching, we also encourage you to get your flu shot in the coming weeks. It’s important to prepare for flu season annually so that dialysis or other treatments are not disrupted by an unexpected illness.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a comprehensive list of vaccinations that Americans with renal disease should talk to their doctors about. It includes everything from Hepatitis B to measles, mumps and rubella. The CDC lists these vaccinations as “especially critical” for those with health conditions like renal disease.


The CDC even has this helpful Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool for people 19 years and older that can help you understand which vaccines you need and what considerations you should make as someone with renal disease.


So whether it’s the COVID or flu vaccine, take this as your reminder to talk to your doctor about getting immunized.