The COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer and Moderna are a bit different from other vaccines. Usually, a vaccine contains a bit of the virus that had been weakened but this is not the case with the COVID-19 vaccine which is called an mRNA vaccine. Unlike other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine contains a non-dangerous piece of protein from the virus called a “spike protein” which is given in a form of a shot. This spike protein leads to the person’s immune system building antibodies against the COVID-19 virus which prevents a person from getting the virus. With the COVID-19 vaccine, a person will have to get two shots of the vaccine within 21 and 28 days apart, depending on whether it is the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 1
The impact of COVID-19 on Patients with Kidney Disease
Patients with kidney disease have a weak immune system which gives them a bigger risk for serious complications for COVID-19 and thus also a high risk of death. Dialysis patients often suffer from other diseases such as cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure or diabetes, which are already considered risk factors on their own. Many patients are picked up from home by ambulance to be brought to the dialysis centre. Once they arrive, they are in the dialysis centre with other kidney patients for up to six hours. At the same time, they are in contact with doctors, medical staff, etc. which put them at high risk to be infected with the virus. In the UK it has been proven that during the first wave around 662 of the in-centre haemodialysis patients did not survive the COVID-19 virus.2 And according to the European Renal Association—European Dialysis and Transplant Association, the death rate of COVID-19 patients receiving dialysis was approximately 20% during the first wave. 3
Kidney Patients to be prioritised for Covid-19 Vaccine
Due to the high risk of kidney patients contracting the COVID-19 virus, National Kidney Foundation finds it highly important to prioritise all these patients as well as their medical staff for the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes kidney patients receiving treatment in dialysis centres as well as at home. It is critical that dialysis facilities, as well as other facilities where kidney patients receive treatment, have the support and supplies necessary to implement priority vaccination practices as fast as possible. 4 According to the Robert-Koch-Institute, a statement was made in mid-December which demanded that all dialysis patients be classified as a high priority, if not the highest priority when it comes to the vaccination. 5
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine safe for Kidney Patients?
All Vaccines that do not contain a living virus are mostly safe for all human beings. In this case, both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine only contains a spike protein which means it would be safe for patients with kidney diseases unless the patient also has another health issue that could be a reason for them not to get that vaccine. The vaccine was tested on people who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, lung disease, asthma and HIV. The outcome of the clinical studies revealed that the vaccine can be safely provided to people with these health conditions. 6