March 25, 2021 – A new federal effort announced today will help people with chronic kidney disease who require dialysis access COVID-19 vaccinations through 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.
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 partners 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.
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.