COVID-19 Boosters Encouraged for People with Kidney Disease

COVID-19 Boosters Encouraged for People with Kidney Disease

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase nationwide, all individuals ages 18 and older are eligible and encouraged to receive a booster COVID-19 vaccination shot, according to both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Individuals are able to receive a booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna, regardless of the vaccine that they initially received.

The booster shots have been proven to significantly increase antibody levels and will provide maximum protection against the deadly COVID-19 virus. As we continue to navigate the flu season and the holiday season, along with the latest threats related to the Omicron variant, the risk of another surge of COVID-19 infections is greatly increased. It is critical that all those individuals living with kidney disease receive their booster dose in a timely manner due to having a weakened immune system and not receiving the same level of antibody immunity from the initial COVID-19 vaccination as the general population, according to a study out of Johns Hopkins.

“COVID-19 vaccines are the best way for us to help bring an end to this global pandemic. We trust the science, and boosters offer needed protection, especially with our heightened concerns during the holidays,” said Jeffrey Hymes, MD, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Clinical Affairs at Fresenius Medical Care. “We will work together to do what is best for our patients, our staff, our families, and our community.”

In Fresenius Kidney Care centers, Moderna vaccines are readily available for all patients 18 and older who are at least 6 months post their second Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech shot, or 2 months post the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. A recent CDC study shows that due to various factors, such as new variants, all currently available vaccines may become less effective over time. For those with underlying conditions, such as those who have undergone a kidney transplant or live with CKD, it is especially important to receive the booster dose.

“We are confident in the vaccine and the booster shot’s ability to increase immunity and protect our patients with kidney failure,” said Dr. Hymes. “While breakthrough infections are possible in those who are fully vaccinated, the rate of infections per 1,000 vaccinated patients is about 1/3 less than per 1,000 unvaccinated patients. So, this tells us that the vaccine significantly decreases the mortality rate and likelihood of hospitalization.”

Amidst the misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, physician communication to patients is critical to educating and encouraging those with chronic illness to receive the initial vaccine and booster doses to maximize protection against an infection. For more on the topic, listen to the Field Notes podcast episode, “Using Booster Shots to Increase Protection from COVID-19 for People with CKD,” with Dr. Jeffrey Hymes.