Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s leading kidney care multi-stakeholder coalition representing patient advocates, physician organizations, health professional groups, dialysis providers, researchers, and manufacturers – has recently sent letters to congressional leaders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting that COVID-19 vaccines be sent directly to dialysis facilities for distribution to vulnerable patients and vital health care workers.
To ensure that patients kidney failure – or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) — as well as the frontline staff who treat them, are able to receive COVID-19 vaccines, KCP is requesting that COVID-19 vaccines be distributed to dialysis facilities and allow for vaccine administration directly to their patients and frontline staff. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already authorized an alternate distribution process for patients in skilled nursing facilities, community health centers, and federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) to facilitate vaccinating those patients. Patients with ESRD have one of the highest mortality rates due to COVID-19 at 20 percent.
“It is critical that dialysis patients and related clinical staff receive prompt, priority access to COVID-19 vaccines in the dialysis clinic,” said John Butler, Chairman of KCP. “Not only would this policy help vaccinate an extremely vulnerable patient population quickly and safely, but it would also be consistent with the President’s efforts to expand the number of health care providers who are both equipped and staffed to administer the vaccine.”
ESRD disproportionately impacts minority populations, who are also extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. Compared to Caucasians, ESRD prevalence is about 3.7 times greater in African Americans, 1.4 times greater in Native Americans, and 1.5 times greater in Asian Americans.
The risk of ESRD patients stems from not only their kidney disease but also because many of these patients are living with four or more comorbidities, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has prioritized patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and frontline healthcare workers for Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. However, many are currently experiencing delays and barriers to access the vaccine.
“The COVID-19 public health emergency is having a disproportionate impact on people with CKD and ESKD, and the entire kidney community is working hard to curb the spread and impact of COVID-19. We recognize that there is more we can do by allowing dialysis providers to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, but first, we need policymakers’ help to secure a vaccine allocation,” Butler concluded.