Be safe this cold and flu season

Avoiding infection is very important for transplant recipients.

Colds and flu are respiratory illnesses that are easily spread from one person to another. Because transplant patients’ immune systems are often weakened by anti-rejection medication, they’re at greater risk for infection, including colds and flu.

Symptoms of the flu are sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, fatigue, body aches and cough. If any member of your family—especially the transplant recipient—has these symptoms see a doctor and/or alert your transplant team. (If the transplant recipient is showing signs of sickness the team may prescribe a special medicine.)

Preventing colds and flu

With a little extra care it’s usually possible to avoid catching them. Here’s how to stay S.A.F.E. this flu and cold season.

anitary- Have everyone in your family wash his or her hands often. Regularly washing hands—with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer like Purell—is the best way to avoid spreading germs that cause colds and flu.


void sick people- Respiratory infections are highly contagious; the best way to avoid catching them is to avoid people with them.


lu shot- Your transplant team will let you know if the transplant recipient can receive the flu shot, but all other members of the household (and others close contact with him or her), 6 months or older should get a flu shot. We recommend the flu shot, not the nasal vaccine, for households where transplant recipients live. If a family member has an egg allergy, he or she may tend to avoid flu shots. There are egg-free flu shots available, but always consult a doctor first. If family members are having trouble getting a flu shot, please let your transplant team know.


ducate yourself- Stay ahead of the flu and colds by knowing the symptoms to look out for and keep abreast of any colds or flus going around your child’s school, daycare, etc.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of colds, but can cause very serious illness in transplant recipients, chronically ill children and young infants.  Symptoms vary and differ with age and usually appear four to six days after coming in contact with the virus. Typical signs of RSV are cough, stuffy nose, or low-grade fever.

Like with the flu, hand washing is extremely important to prevent the spread of RSV germs.

Young children under 2 years of age may be prescribed Synagis (palivizumab) a medicine which helps prevent RSV infection.Your transplant team will advise if the transplant recipient should be receiving Synagis. (Synagis is administered by your pediatrician once per month from November through March. If the transplant team has recommended this to you, please remember to keep your monthly appointments with your pediatrician.)

Want to know more? This website may be helpful.