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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Organ Transplant Recipients

In addition to the general information in the letter sent out by your doctor, there is some specific information you need to know as a transplant recipient.

Prevention: Flu Vaccine

  • It is very important for you to be vaccinated against flu every year. The flu usually can be prevented by vaccination.
  • You should receive the flu shot. You should not receive the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist®), as it contains live virus. The flu shot is safe in transplant patients and does not cause rejection.
  • It is very important for your close contacts (family, people you live with) to get vaccinated, too. Because the flu vaccine may not be fully effective in transplant patients, this will reduce the chance that you might be exposed to flu from your family. They should also receive the flu shot and not the nasal spray vaccine because the spray contains a live virus. 

Illness: If You Think You Have the Flu

  • Call the transplant clinic (312-695-8900) or your primary care doctor right away if you or any of your close contacts have symptoms of the flu (fever or chills, plus sore throat, body aches and pains, shortness of breath, cough or headaches). When you call, tell the doctor you think you have the flu. Make sure they know you are a transplant recipient.
  • Transplant patients who get the flu may be sicker for a longer period of time than other people who get the flu. They may also be able to pass it onto others for a longer period of time. Early treatment may prevent progression to pneumonia and may shorten the time you are sick. You should not wait to contact your doctor if you have symptoms.   
  • To protect yourself and others, wear a mask to the doctor’s office if possible. Or you can take a tissue or handkerchief to cover your cough and alert the office as soon as you arrive that you may have the flu.

Getting the flu shot is an important part of remaining healthy as a transplant recipient. Please get your flu shots and encourage your close contacts to be vaccinated as well. You may get your shots from your doctor or at a local clinic.

Please call us at 312-695-8900 with any questions or concerns.


Last UpdateJune 9, 2011