Dialysis centers will get thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses to vaccinate their patients and employees, the Biden administration announced Thursday.
The doses will be provided directly to dialysis centers for patients who receive treatment at least three times a week. People on dialysis who contract COVID-19 are at greater risk for serious illness and death. In fact, a study published earlier this year in the Canadian Medical Journal Association found that patients undergoing long-term dialysis were more than five times likelier to be infected with COVID-19 and nearly four times as likely to die than the general population.
The partnership is part of the administration's effort to equitably distribute vaccines to communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Thirty-four percent of patients on dialysis are Black and 19% are Hispanic.
"This partnership will certainly save lives by getting to this population immediately in a convenient clinical setting with highly trained medical professionals they already visit three times per week for their kidney care," said John Butler, chairman of Kidney Care Partner's Coalition, a group of physicians, providers, researchers, advocates and manufacturers.
"People living with kidney failure are typically treated in our dialysis centers three times a week, and the majority manage additional conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Rob Kossmann, executive vice president and Chief Medical Officer of Fresenius Medical Care North America. "These conditions put our patients at much higher risk of severe complications, hospitalization, and death if they contract COVID-19. They also often face transportation and other challenges that make accessing a vaccine on their own very difficult. As our nurses routinely provide other vaccinations and medications in our dialysis centers, this national rollout is an essential step forward."
According to a statement by the White House, there are about 500,000 people in the U.S. who receive regular dialysis treatment. The administration said patients "who typically go three times a week for treatment are able to get vaccinated at their place of care"