Preventing illness

preventing illness on dilaysis?

Vaccinations and infection prevention for those on dialysis

Your body’s immune system helps protect you from infection. However, people on dialysis can have weaker immune systems. This makes it harder to fight off infections and means it’s possible to get very sick.

Here are important things you should do:

Get recommended vaccinations

  • Getting recommended vaccinations can help prevent you from having to cope with other health concerns.
  • Ask your kidney doctor about which vaccinations are right for you.

Learn more about recommended vaccinations for those living with CKD

Protect yourself and others from infections

  • Take sensible precautions to avoid contact with the seasonal flu and COVID-19 viruses, such as wear a mask and keep 6 feet apart from people who do not live with you.
  • Frequently clean your hands with soap and a solution that kills germs.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  • Frequently disinfect common surfaces in your home. Places for special attention are hard surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom.

Learn more about how you get an infection

Do a daily wellness check on your dialysis access to make sure it stays healthy and to find signs of a blood stream infection early.

  • Learn how to keep your access clean.
  • Know the signs of possible infection.
  • Talk to your care team immediately if your access looks, sounds, or feels different.

Learn more about caring for your access

Get vaccinations to help avoid illness

Getting recommended vaccinations can help prevent you from having to cope with other health concerns. Here are some important vaccinations to ask your kidney doctor about.

Seasonal Influenza (Each October)

  • An annual flu shot helps protect you during the flu season, October through May.
  • Within 2 weeks of your flu shot, the vaccine begins helping your body fight the flu if you become infected.  
  • Because the flu virus changes each year, get a new flu shot at the beginning of each Fall.

Pneumonia (Every 5 years)

  • The pneumonia vaccine helps protect you from 23 types of infection. 
  • Usually 1-2 doses of vaccine are given, followed by a booster shot in 5 years.
  • About 2-3 weeks after receiving the vaccine, it prevents pneumonia about 60-70% of the time.

Hepatitis B (When needed)

  • Your doctor tests your blood to see if you need this vaccine.
  • If needed, a series of Hepatitis B shots is given. For some this may be 3 shots. Others may need additional or higher dosage. 
  • Talk to your kidney doctor about testing, timing and dosage.
  • A test to determine if you are immune or have lost immunity and need more vaccinations to Hepatitis B is done at regular intervals.

Handwashing tips from Bubbles

Bubbles is our handwashing champion. Download and post his tips on reducing the risk of infection by expert handwashing.


Handwashing made fun

This widely popular music video gets your toes tapping all the way to the sink! 

dialysis access care

Dialysis access care

Your dialysis access is your lifeline to your best life possible. Learn more about how to keep your access healthy and ready for safe, efficient dialysis treatments.

COVID prevention for dialysis

Reducing risk of COVID-19

Dialysis centers are working hard to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Learn about how this is being done and get some helpful reminders on how to protect yourself and those you love.

Reduce the risk of infection

Due to tooth decay/gum disease

Symptoms: You may have pain or swelling in your mouth from cavities or gum infections. 

Why does it happen:  People with CKD have to be especially careful about the health of their teeth.  A minor infection for someone without CKD can turn into a major problem for someone with kidney disease.

In addition to causing pain, trouble eating, and bad breath, cavities and gum infections can cause chronic inflammation which the body must fight off.  Also, germs that cause cavities and gum disease can easily spread throughout the body and make it hard on your immune system to fight them off. Infection of any kind is a concern for those on dialysis.  In addition, poor oral health is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease due to the chronic inflammation it may cause.


What you can do:

  • See your dentist regularly and make sure he/she knows you are on dialysis.
  • If you are getting a major dental procedure, it is often advised that you take a single dose of antibiotic (dental prophylaxis) just prior to the procedure. Ask your dentist if this is necessary for you.
  • Schedule dental appointments on non-dialysis days, especially if you are receiving blood-thinning medicine, such as heparin, during your treatments to prevent clotting.
  • Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day.
  • Floss regularly.

From foot-related problems

Symptoms: You might have very dry skin or a corn or callus on your foot that might easily crack the skin and allow an infection to enter your blood.

Why does it happen: People on dialysis can have poor circulation, nerve damage and weaker immune systems that may turn a simple foot issue into a very serious health problem.


What you can do:

  • Make sure your care team regularly checks your feet for:
  • Discoloration, corns, calluses, and any changes from the last check
  • Numbness or changes in what you feel
  • Cuts, swelling, ulcers, cracks/breaks in the skin; don’t forget to check between your toes and use a mirror.
  • Satellite Healthcare is dedicated to doing foot checks for the patients once a month. If you are not having this valuable check performed by your nurse, please say something.
  • A podiatry referral will often be made should big problems with your feet be discovered.


Tell your care team if you have:

  • A history of foot problems
  • Noticed any changes on your feet
  • Have any pain, cramps or discomfort in your foot