A new federal effort announced on March 25, will help people with chronic kidney disease who require dialysis access COVID-19 vaccination at dialysis clinics, as well as provide vaccines for healthcare workers at dialysis centers. This effort is another important step in making sure that vaccines reach the most medically vulnerable communities and that equity continues to anchor our efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am proud that CDC has partnered with dialysis provider organizations across the U.S., including the two largest operators of dialysis clinics nationally, DaVita Inc. and Fresenius Medical Care North America, to support the rapid vaccination of most dialysis patients and healthcare personnel. CDC is partnering with additional dialysis providers to ensure the widest reach possible with this population across the United States.
This is another crucial step to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect populations that have been put at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19,” – said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH.
Chronic Kidney Disease
When people develop chronic kidney disease (CKD), their kidneys become damaged and over time may not clean the blood as well as healthy kidneys. If kidneys do not work well, toxic waste and extra fluid accumulate in the body and may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and early death. However, people with CKD and people at risk for CKD can take steps to protect their kidneys with the help of their health care providers.
- More than 1 in 7, that is 15% of US adults or 37 million people, are estimated to have CKD.
- As many as 9 in 10 adults with CKD do not know they have CKD.
- About 2 in 5 adults with severe CKD do not know they have CKD.
Percentage of CKD stages 1–4 among US adults aged 18 years or older using data from the 2015–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the CKD Epidemiology Collaboration (CKD-EPI) equation. CKD stage 5 (that is, kidney failure) was not included.
These estimates were based on a single measure of albuminuria or serum creatinine; they do not account for persistence of albuminuria or levels of creatinine that are higher than normal as indicated by the Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes recommendations. Thus, CKD in this report might be overestimated.
COVID-19 Vaccination at Dialysis Centers
People on dialysis who contract COVID-19 often have severe adverse health outcomes — half require hospitalization and 20 percent to 30 percent die from COVID-19. Furthermore, advanced stage chronic kidney disease disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives.
These same groups are less likely to receive a kidney transplant — and more likely to rely on long-term dialysis treatments — than non-Hispanic Whites. It is estimated that 34 percent of people receiving dialysis are Black and 19 percent are Hispanic; and that 22 percent of staff in dialysis clinics are Black.
Dialysis clinics provide a trusted innovative pathway to help COVID-19 vaccines reach populations that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, more than 550,000 people receive regular dialysis treatments through the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease Program.
The dialysis partner’s effort will onboard clinics that participate in the Medicare program to administer COVID-19 vaccines to their patients and workers. Dialysis care providers have longstanding experience administering flu and hepatitis B vaccinations to people who receive dialysis treatment.
They also have extensive operational, logistical, and information-technology infrastructure to support COVID-19 vaccinations. Importantly, this effort will allow people who receive dialysis treatments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from a trusted, trained, and familiar source at a location they already visit several times each week. It will also protect the healthcare personnel who care for this population. To date, only 35 percent of healthcare workers in dialysis centers have been vaccinated.