Bedfordshire woman champions ‘life saving’ flu jab for those with health problems

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A Bedfordshire woman who was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease three years ago says flu could prove fatal for people like her who are at risk because of a long-term health condition.

Deb Kalender from Bedford who has one kidney after suffering with kidney disease, said: “I had surgery three years to remove one of my kidneys and just two months ago doctors discovered I had chronic kidney disease in my remaining kidney.

“It means that the flu jab is a potential lifer saver for me – and other people like me who are at risk of getting serious complications from flu.

“Twenty years ago I did have a nasty bout of flu, and it made me feel so ill - and that was when I was otherwise healthy, so I would certainly not want to go through that again. I just can’t take the risk of what flu could do to me now.

“My local doctor’s surgery made it really easy, arranging extra flu vaccination clinics and sending a text message in advance to remind me about my appointment.

“My partner will also be having the flu jab to help protect my health, because if he can’t catch flu, he can’t pass it on to me.”

Thousands of Bedfordshire residents who have long term health conditions are being encouraged to have a free flu jab because of the life threatening risk from the flu virus.

Doctor Dayo Kuku, respiratory disease clinical lead for NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The flu jab is essential for people with a long term health condition which makes them more at risk of catching flu, and developing serious complications which may lead to a prolonged spell off work, hospital admission or even death.

“Around 180,000 people in Bedfordshire qualify for a free flu vaccination every year, because their health is at risk, but not everyone takes up this offer of protection against a serious viral threat.

“I would urge everyone who is vulnerable to infection to have the flu vaccine – it’s the best way to protect your health.”

The flu jab is free to people with all sorts of long term health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease or a weakened immune system due to HIV, chemotherapy or a damaged/no spleen because of the risk to their health.

Carers who receive Carer’s Allowance can also get a free flu jab.

Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination should contact their GP.