The Biden administration on Thursday announced new plans to allocate Covid-19 vaccines to dialysis centers nationwide. This new partnership with dialysis clinics is an effort to vaccinate people receiving dialysis, as well as health care personnel in outpatient dialysis clinics.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, applauded the partnership in a written statement released on Thursday, saying that she is “proud” the CDC has partnered with dialysis provider organizations to support the vaccination of most dialysis patients and health care personnel.
“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,” Walensky said in the statement.
Dialysis is used to treat people with kidney failure, which affects more than half a million people in the United States, and most people go to a dialysis center for treatment.
“Each year, more than 550,000 people receive regular dialysis treatments through the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease Program. The dialysis partners effort will onboard clinics that participate in the Medicare program to administer COVID-19 vaccines to their patients and workers,” Walensky said, adding that dialysis facilities already have “longstanding” experience administering vaccinations, such as flu and hepatitis B shots.
Walensky added that people on dialysis often have more severe outcomes when they contract Covid-19, half require hospitalization and 20% to 30% die, she said.
“Furthermore, advanced stage chronic kidney disease disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives,” Walensky said. “Dialysis clinics provide a trusted innovative pathway to help COVID-19 vaccines reach populations that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In response, the nonprofit American Kidney Fund issued a statement on Thursday applauding the White House’s decision to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to dialysis centers. The American Society of Nephrology tweeted a link to the White House’s announcement about the dialysis program, calling it “big news.”