The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) is supporting the National Renal Office (NRO) in calling for patients with severe kidney disease to be re-prioritised in relation to the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination. They are advocating that patients receive the same priority allocation as nursing home residents.
More than 4,800 patients with end stage kidney disease (ESKD), who are in the very high-risk category, are currently in seventh place on the vaccination priority list while kidney patients under 18 (many of whom are school goers) are in 15th position, the Association stated.
The IKA is part of a coalition of 19 patient organisations, under the umbrella of the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI), who were co-signatories in a recent joint letter sent to An Taoiseach and the Chair of the High-Level Task Force of Vaccination and Immunisation.
Their submission is urging the Government to give immediate priority to people with chronic and rare diseases, of all ages, in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. Many of these patients have been cocooning and self-isolating since early 2020 and this has created a huge emotional, physical, and financial burden for them and their families.
Ms Carol Moore, Chief Executive of the IKA, said: “We are pleased to support the National Renal Office and all renal clinicians as they work towards ensuring the suitability of each of the approved vaccines for our patients. It is disappointing that although transplant and dialysis patients are among the highest risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 infection, they do not have this status reflected in the current vaccinations’ prioritisation list in Ireland. It is totally at odds with their medical vulnerability.
“We welcome the National Renal Office’s stance on this and the fact that they are advocating ‘that patients with severe kidney disease who are at high risk are moved up the Covid-19 vaccine priority list’ and that they receive the same vaccination high priority allocation as nursing homes. Also, in line with NRO guidance, the Irish Kidney Association will continue to advise renal patients to follow best clinical advice and to talk to their consultants and GPs about their individual circumstances in protecting themselves against Covid-19 and determining vaccination suitability.”
Ms Moore explained, “Over 4,800 patients in Ireland have end stage kidney disease, over 2,200 of whom are currently receiving dialysis. Throughout the pandemic, almost 2,000 patients have continued to attend hospitals and treatment centres for their vital haemodialysis treatment which they undergo three times a week for up to four hours at a time. A further 2,600 or more ESKD patients have received kidney transplants, and just like patients who have received other organ transplants (heart, lung, liver, pancreas), are on life-long immune-suppressant medication. Therefore, all transplant patients, many who have been cocooning since March, are highly vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.”
In a press release issued on 17 December, the National Kidney Foundation in the US stated that it “believes that the key principle of ethical allocation must be that the vaccine is made available to patients at the highest risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 infection” https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/statement-on-kidney-patient-prioritization-for-covid-19-vaccines-and-therapeutics-301195196.html.
Ms Moore said “we hope that in Ireland our extremely medically vulnerable ESKD patients are also afforded ethical vaccine allocation recognition”.
Meanwhile, the IKA has launched its Christmas awareness campaign, which is supported by HSE Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI). This campaign aims to encourage families to take time over the festive season to discuss their organ donation wishes and light a candle for organ donors and the 2,000 plus people in Ireland with organ failure.
Restaurateurs Ms Sallyanne Clarke and Mr Derry Clarke met with seven-year-old Tomás O’Dowd, a kidney patient, and Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Hazel Chu, for a photocall at the Christmas tree outside the Mansion House, Dublin.
The Clarkes are supporting the campaign in memory of their 16-year-old son, Andrew, who gave the gift of life to three people following his passing in 2012.
*Individuals who wish to support organ donation are encouraged to keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence and having the ‘digital organ donor card’ APP on their smartphone.
Organ donor cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.
The public are encouraged to support the work of the Irish Kidney Association and can Freetext KIDNEY to 50300 to donate €4. They can also donate through the Irish Kidney Association’s website https://ika.ie/make-a-contribution/