“People on dialysis who contract COVID-19 often have severe adverse health outcomes — half require hospitalization and 20% to 30% die,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said in a statement announcing the program. “Furthermore, advanced stage chronic kidney disease disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities. These same groups are less likely to receive a kidney transplant — and more likely to rely on long-term dialysis treatments.”
In announcing the initiative, the CDC issued facts and recommendations on vaccinating patients and staff, which are summarized as follows:1
Why vaccinate patients while they are at the dialysis clinic?
- Dialysis patients can be easily reached for COVID-19 vaccination at dialysis clinics, which have extensive operational, logistical, and information technology infrastructure to serve as capable vaccine providers.
- Many dialysis patients are accustomed to receiving routine vaccinations at the dialysis clinic. By offering COVID-19 vaccines in a setting where patients are comfortable with trusted and trained vaccinators, it might be possible to increase vaccination rates for this high-risk population and ensure patients receive a complete vaccination series.
- Patients on dialysis often are medically frail, and it might be challenging and impractical for them to seek out venues separate from the dialysis clinic to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
- Currently, dialysis providers are reporting low COVID-19 vaccination coverage among their patients because of challenges with getting vaccines.
Why is it important to vaccinate dialysis healthcare personnel?
- Dialysis healthcare personnel are considered a priority population for vaccination by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
- Dialysis providers currently are reporting low COVID-19 vaccination coverage among their healthcare personnel because of challenges with obtaining vaccines.
- Healthcare personnel working at outpatient dialysis clinics might have difficulty accessing vaccine because most dialysis clinics are not affiliated with hospitals. The convenience of having vaccine offered at their workplace might improve vaccination coverage.
- Dialysis healthcare personnel might have high-risk, work-related exposures to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because their work involves being in close proximity (less than six feet) to their patients for extended periods of time.
- Ensuring healthcare personnel have access to COVID-19 vaccination is critical to protect both them and their medically fragile patients.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinating dialysis patients and healthcare personnel. Last reviewed March 24, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/planning/vaccinate-dialysis-patients-hcp.html