About 20 percent of dialysis patients are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with black, Native American and Pacific Islander patients being most likely to show hesitancy.
Younger patients and female patients are also more likely to be hesitant. Hesitancy for each group is up to 30 percent of the population.
A nationwide survey conducted led by a Stanford University team in partnership with U.S. Renal Care, the third largest dialysis network in the U.S. conducted the soon to be published study. Researchers surveyed 1,515 patients, with more than half being either black or Hispanic.
The main reason cited for vaccine hesitancy in the survey was fear of potential side effects – expressed by about half of the participants.
Experts worry that patients who are already disproportionately more likely to experience hospitalization or death due to COVID-19 who do not receive the vaccine may be putting themselves at risk.
In the U.S., 20% of dialysis patients are still vaccine hesitant (blue) – in line with the overall U.S. rate – despite being more at risk for Covid. Hesitancy rates climb as high as 30 percent for people who are black, Native American and Pacific Islander (right). More than half of patients said they were concerned about side effects from the shots (yellow)
‘Outreach efforts need to be targeted to these groups,’ said Dr Shuchi Anand, a Stanford University researcher who led the study, on how to quell vaccine hesitancy in minority, women and younger populations.
‘Racial and ethnic minority groups represent a substantial portion of persons on dialysis. 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 rate of vaccine hesitancy among dialysis patients matches the rate of vaccine hesitancy among the general population.
According to a March study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 20 percent of Americans either plan to not get the vaccine at all, or will only get it if they are required to.
The total has stayed relatively consistent since the vaccine first became available in December.
‘Finding that 80 percent 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 Dr Anand.
Vaccine hesitancy over the past four months has ebbed slightly, but 20% of Americans still say they won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine unless it is required, or won’t do so at all (green)
Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure and chronic kidney disease (CKD) where a machine is used to clean toxins and other fluids out of a patient’s body.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists CKD as a risk factor to becoming severely ill with COVID-19.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that 468,000 Americans are on dialysis to treat CKD.
More than 17 percent of black Americans have CKD, the largest of any racial or ethnic group. Around 15 percent of Mexican Americans have CKD, the second largest total of any demographic.
Nearly 16 percent of American Women have CKD, compared to 13 percent of Men.
The data from KFF shows that black Americans are more likely to be vaccine hesitant than their peers, with just 55 percent reporting they had gotten the vaccine or that they plan to soon get the vaccine.
While that figure has risen in recent months, it still falls short of white (64 percent) and Hispanic (61 percent) Americans.
A Gallup Poll from March found that Americans between the ages of 18-to-44 were least likely to have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far, though they were more likely to receive it than those aged 45-to-64.
The average age of a dialysis patient in the U.S. is 64 years old.
Polling by The Morning Consult finds that women (22 percent) are more likely to not want the vaccine than men (17 percent).
The full results of the survey will be available in the next issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.