Access to COVID-19 vaccines is a confusing, disjointed, frustrating hodgepodge throughout the country. Vaccine availability is the largest challenge we face in getting people inoculated. Why haven’t state and local government agencies made direct vaccine allocations to dialysis centers a priority? Dialysis patients have extremely complicated schedules as it is. They shouldn’t need to navigate hard-to-reach scheduling systems or have to travel to a third-party site for a vaccination.
Adding one additional hurdle to getting the vaccination means fewer dialysis patients will get the shot. End-stage renal disease, or ESRD, patients are among the most vulnerable populations for poor outcomes of COVID-19, four times more likely to be hospitalized than all Medicare beneficiaries, with a 25-fold mortality rate from SARS-CoV-2 than that of other age-matched people on Medicare.
We don’t have a national strategy in place to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccine for dialysis patients, but why can’t we achieve that at the regional level? Contact the health department and local hospitals and advocate for this vulnerable patient group.
Getting dialysis patients vaccinated is the right thing to do for them, but it also eases the pressure on the health system.