The National Kidney Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Want Everyone to Get a Flu Shot

Foundation and federal government work together to spread the word


September 22, 2020, New York, NY – The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on spreading the word that everyone, especially patients with kidney disease, should get a flu vaccine this fall.

Influenza is a potentially dangerous and contagious virus that causes respiratory illness and can be serious for some people, including patients with kidney disease. This year, it is more important than ever that Americans get a flu vaccine to reduce additional strain on the medical system during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is a vaccine for influenza, there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19. It is possible to have the flu and other respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 at the same time, according to the CDC. Experts are still studying how common this is.

“For the upcoming flu season, flu vaccination will be very important to reduce flu so it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NKF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Vassalotti, MD. “It is especially important that people with chronic kidney disease at any stage, and those who are treated with dialysis or kidney transplant, understand that they are at increased risk of severe illness from both COVID-19 and the flu.” 

Kidney disease causes a decreased immune response, increasing vulnerability to infections. Patients face a greater risk of getting certain diseases and developing severe complications. Also, patients with kidney disease have a higher risk of death from the flu than those without it.  And in recent seasons, about 30% of adult flu hospitalizations reported to CDC have occurred in people who had diabetes.

 “Diabetes remains one of the primary risk factors for chronic kidney disease in the U.S.,” said, Ann Albright, PhD, RDN, director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Good diabetes management is one of the best ways people with diabetes can support their health, including continuing to take medications as prescribed and ensuring they’ve received all recommended vaccinations.  Flu and pneumococcal vaccines are especially important right now, as people with diabetes are at high risk for severe complications from both COVID-19 and the flu.”

 According to the CDC, people with kidney disease at any stage, people on dialysis, and kidney transplant recipients should only receive flu vaccine by injection rather than the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Because a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, and because flu viruses are constantly changing, an annual flu vaccine is needed for optimal protection.


Kidney Disease Facts

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Blacks or African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure.  Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.


The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit