NKF Applauds White House Initiative to Vaccinate Dialysis Patients In-Center Nationwide

New York, NY—March 25, 2021 – Today, the National Kidney Foundation applauds the Biden Administration’s announcement of its new partnership with dialysis clinics nationwide to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination of patients with kidney failure. This new partnership is part of an overall national investment to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines more broadly and build confidence in hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been advocating that kidney patients, especially those on dialysis or living with a transplant, be prioritized,” said Kevin Longino, CEO, National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant recipient. “The partnership with dialysis clinics announced today will provide meaningful progress towards this goal and will help reduce the risk of increased complications and mortality kidney patients face due to the novel coronavirus, especially in communities of color.”

Patients on dialysis are at particularly high risk from COVID-19, due to the increased age of the population, numerous underlying comorbidities including diabetes mellitus and heart disease, and community exposures. In addition, minority populations, who are already at increased risk of COVID-19, are over-represented among dialysis patients. Patients receiving in-center dialysis are at particularly high-risk due to their need to travel to dialysis centers three times per week where they spend 11 to 12 hours weekly in close contact with others. Patients on dialysis, with kidney transplants or with advanced chronic kidney disease are among the patients at highest risk for complications from COVID-19, including a hospitalization rate that is 10-fold higher and a risk of dying that is more than 2.5-fold higher than the general population.

As NKF has noted in a previous statement, while dialysis facilities are a practical site for vulnerable kidney patients to be vaccinated, facilities may not have the supplies to safely store the vaccine. It is vital that dialysis facilities, among other sites where kidney patients receive care, have the support and supplies needed to expeditiously implement priority vaccinate practices.

“While today’s announcement is a critically important step for dialysis patients, we call on the Administration to also prioritize kidney and other organ transplant recipients and all other patients with advanced kidney disease,” said Paul Palevsky, MD, President of NKF and a nephrologist. “While some states are already prioritizing patients with kidney disease who are at increased risk for COVID-19, a national strategy is warranted, as well as a national database to guide and monitor such a strategy. Meaningful planning must be conducted if this effort is replicated in case a vaccine booster is needed for at-risk patient communities.”

Kidney Disease Facts

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it. 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Blacks or African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.

Approximately 750,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. More than 500,000 of these patients receive dialysis at least three times per week to replace kidney function. Nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waitlist for a kidney transplant right now. Depending on where a patient lives, the average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years.

About the National Kidney Foundation

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org