Access to Covid-19 vaccines is a confusing, disjointed, frustrating hodgepodge throughout the country. Vaccine availability here in Whatcom County is the largest challenge we face in getting people inoculated.
Why haven’t state and local government agencies, including the Whatcom County Health Department, made direct vaccine allocations to our local dialysis center a priority? Dialysis patients have extremely complicated schedules as it is. They shouldn’t need to navigate hard-to-reach scheduling systems or have to travel to a third-party site for a vaccination.
Adding one additional hurdle to getting the vaccination means fewer dialysis patients will get the shot. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients are among the most vulnerable populations for poor outcomes of Covid-19, four times more likely to be hospitalized than all Medicare beneficiaries. Their Covid-19 mortality rate is 25-fold that of other age-matched people on Medicare.
We don’t have a national strategy in place to prioritize vaccine for dialysis patients, but why can’t we achieve that at the local level in Whatcom County? Contact the health department and advocate for this vulnerable patient group. Getting dialysis patients, more conveniently, vaccinated is the right thing to do, but it also eases the pressure on the health system.