Courtneys Story

In her seven years working as a dialysis coordinator at a south Louisiana hospital, Courtney has seen firsthand how influenza (flu) impacts people with chronic health conditions such as kidney disease.

Many of the patients she sees have other pre-existing conditions including hypertension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. Sometimes they are in the hospital for flu complications when they learn that their chronic condition has progressed to the stage where they now need dialysis. Courtney sees all the conditions co-conspiring to make her patients feel rotten.

Serious Complications

During one flu season, the vast majority of the flu patients Courtney saw in the hospital required rehab placement or skilled nursing in a nursing home setting because they experienced such dramatic loss of physical and mental function. This can be isolating or depressing for patients who already feel overwhelmed—especially if it overlaps with the holiday season, which is often the peak for flu season in Louisiana.

The seriousness of flu often surprises patients, but it can also surprise Courtney’s fellow healthcare professionals. The number of early flu cases during the 2022-2023 respiratory season shocked many healthcare professionals, who were finally seeing signs of COVID-19 rates declining in Louisiana.

Why Courtney Gets a Flu Vaccine Every Year

Courtney has gotten vaccinated against flu each year for as long as she can remember, either at the hospital or at a local pharmacy. She chooses to get a flu vaccine every year to keep herself, her patients, and the community safe. She has seen the impact flu has had on friends, family, and patients, and takes it very seriously, noting “if the flu can knock down a healthy individual with no pre-existing conditions for a solid week, imagine what it does to a person who struggles with chronic health conditions. I have seen multiple patients this flu season who have come in with all sorts of combinations of COVID-19, flu, pneumonia, and RSV. This season has been so bad that nearly every patient’s chart I open includes results for all four of these tests—something I have never seen while working in healthcare.”

Getting any vaccine is the simplest act of kindness you can do for your community. You often cannot see a chronic health condition with the naked eye.

Call to Action

Courtney strongly recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older, especially people who have a chronic health condition. She would rather her patients be healthy and home with family instead of in her hospital, dealing with this dangerous illness.

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