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Dialysis Patients at Higher Risk From The Flu

Fresenius Medical Care Offers Flu Vaccine and Tips to Help Patients

WALTHAM, Mass. – Sept. 30, 2011 For most people, the flu is a temporary setback that makes them feel under the weather for a week or two. For dialysis patients with kidney failure, however, the flu is a serious health threat that can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. Beginning in October, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, will offer all of its patients and clinical staff an annual flu vaccine, which protects against both seasonal flu and H1N1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, and particularly older adults, to be vaccinated against the flu every year. CKD is a progressive, usually permanent, loss of kidney function that can take place over a period of months or years. When CKD progresses to kidney failure, or end stage renal disease (ESRD), the only treatments are a kidney transplant or dialysis, a life-sustaining treatment typically required every two to three days.

Carolyn Latham, VP of Clinical Quality and UltraCare® at Fresenius Medical Care says, "It’s important for all of our patients and staff to be vaccinated against the flu because of the serious health complications that can result from this illness. We also urge patients to take precautions in their daily lives to protect themselves from catching and spreading influenza viruses."

Patients should check with their local clinic to find out the specific vaccination schedule near them. In addition to getting a vaccine, Fresenius Medical Care offers these tips to help patients avoid the flu this season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and scrub them all around for at least 20 seconds – the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end twice. Remember to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails too. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth — this is how germs are spread.
  • Your dialysis treatment is extremely important, so if you have signs of the flu when you come in for treatment, inform your caregivers before entering the clinic. They can provide you with a mask that may protect your fellow patients and staff, while allowing you to receive treatment.
  • If you receive your flu shot elsewhere, make sure to let your caregiver know so they can include this information in your medical record.

FMCNA’s flu vaccination initiative demonstrates the company’s UltraCare® mission of delivering excellent, patient-centered care through innovative programs, the latest technology, continuous quality improvement and a focus on superior customer service.

Dialysis is a life-sustaining process that cleans waste products from the blood, removes extra fluids, and controls the body’s chemistry when a person’s kidneys fail. Dialysis patients require treatment on an ongoing basis unless they receive a kidney transplant.

Flu vaccinations are covered by most health insurers. For more information, go to www.ultracare-dialysis.com

About Fresenius Medical Care
Fresenius Medical Care (NYSE: FMS) is the world’s leading company devoted to patient-oriented renal therapy. Through more than 2,700 clinics in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa, we provide kidney dialysis treatments to approximately 215,000 patients worldwide. We are also the world's leading maker of dialysis products such as hemodialysis machines, dialyzers and related disposable products. Chronic kidney failure is a condition that affects about 2 million individuals worldwide.

For more information about the company’s more than 1,800 U.S. dialysis facilities, visit www.ultracare-dialysis.com (in English and Spanish). For more information about Fresenius Medical Care, visit www.fmc-ag.com or www.fmcna.com.