About 20% of Americans on kidney dialysis are reluctant to get a COVID-19 shot, according to a new study.
Kidney failure patients on dialysis are at increased risk for COVID-related complications that could lead to hospitalization and death, so it’s important for them to be vaccinated, researchers said.
“Finding that 80% of patients on dialysis were willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine is a fantastic sign for potentially reaching high rates of vaccination in our population,” said study author Dr. Shuchi Anand, assistant professor of nephrology at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
But, researchers added, the findings underscore the need to ease reluctant patients’ concerns about COVID vaccination.
For the study, Anand’s team surveyed more than 1,500 adults across the United States who are receiving kidney dialysis.
Nearly 25% were Hispanic patients and 30% were Black patients. More than half (56%) did not have a college degree. Participants were representative of the nation’s overall dialysis population, the study authors said.
They found that vaccine acceptance was lower among younger patients, women, Blacks, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Up to 30% of people in these groups expressed reservations about getting vaccinated.
Of the vaccine-hesitant patients, 53% said they were concerned about side effects, according to findings published April 29 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Despite the reluctance, Anand praised the regular availability of vaccines at dialysis centers.
“Many of [them] have worked hard to increase influenza vaccination and hepatitis B vaccination coverage in this vulnerable population over the past decade,” she said in a journal news release.
Now, Anand said, outreach efforts need to target dialysis patients who have reservations about the COVID-19 shot.
“Racial and ethnic minority groups represent a substantial portion of persons on dialysis,” she pointed out. “Also, younger age groups, while less susceptible to serious illness, will come in close contact with older people since they will go to shared facilities multiple times per week for dialysis, so outreach and high vaccine acceptability is crucial for this age group as well.”
The National Kidney Foundation has more on dialysis and COVID-19.