Today’s Solutions: January 30, 2023

Although many states have now expanded vaccine access to include nearly all demographics, there is still valid concern over how to get shots to marginalized populations, which are vulnerable to Covid-19 but don’t have ready access to vaccination services. One proposed solution for improving vaccine equity and access goes through an already well-established medical resource: dialysis centers. 

550,000 people in the US rely on dialysis services and these patients are 10 to 15 times more likely than the average American to die if they contract Covid-19. About half of the country’s dialysis patients are also Black or Latino. The same healthcare disparities that contribute to this dialysis statistic have also led to slower rates of Covid-19 vaccination among communities of color. Experts believe that allowing dialysis centers to operate as vaccination sites would help to close this gap, but so far, only a few states have authorized dialysis centers to give Covid-19 vaccines. 

Many individuals on dialysis may not have the mobility to easily visit a local vaccination clinic, but visits to a dialysis facility for treatment are a regular part of their weekly routine, even during the pandemic. Other barriers, like lack of internet access or information about vaccination sites, further restrict vaccine access for these patients. Expanding eligibility of these facilities as vaccination sites would make a world of difference for these patients who could if they choose, be immunized at a site they already trust and visit frequently. 

Fresenius Medical Care operates a large network of clinics that serve about 40 percent of the US dialysis patients. The company’s CEO Bill Valle told NPR, “Our patients rely on us for all their care, and we have always handled all the other vaccines, whether it be flu, hepatitis, or pneumonia, so they come to trust us.”

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