KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — The National Kidney Foundation, the Malaysian Society of Nephrology, and the Malaysian Society of Transplantation have urged the Health Ministry to prioritise patients with chronic kidney disease for Covid-19 vaccination.
In a joint statement by the three medical groups, they called for patients on haemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis; patients with functioning kidney transplants; health care workers directly attending to HD and peritoneal dialysis patients; family members of HD, peritoneal dialysis, and kidney transplant patients; and patients with CKD stage three to four (pre-dialysis) to be given special priority in getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Experience worldwide has shown this group of patients are very vulnerable to serious complications of Covid-19 infection and there is a significant mortality amongst those infected,” the medical groups said in a statement.
“Similarly, there is increased risk of health care workers (HCW) attending to these patients acquiring this infection due to frequent encounters.”
According to them, there are about 50,000 patients who are living on dialysis or having a functioning kidney transplant in the country, among which the majority of them are on HD.
“These patients have impaired immunity either inherently from their illness or induced by medications, making them eminently vulnerable to complications should they be infected with SARS CoV-2 virus.”
Besides that, the groups said that both HD patients and staff are also vulnerable as they stay in a confined space for long hours, hence any undetected infection among them can have disastrous consequences.
“Haemodialysis staff are specialised nurses and if infected, they have to be quarantined, reducing the centre’s capability to look after the patients, as they are not readily replaceable.
“We are happy to assist the Ministry of Health in the vaccination programme. The National Renal Registry of the Malaysian Society of Nephrology, and the National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia can assist in disseminating information as well assist the ministry in scheduling vaccinations,” the medical groups added.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin previously said that the government will be giving priority to health care workers, as well as the elderly and those with comorbidities like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in the first two phases of the national coronavirus vaccination programme.
The kidney support groups also said that there’s a huge financial impact to patients, staff, and family members when there’s a positive Covid-19 case detected in a HD centre, due to the need for tests, personal protective equipment, and sanitisation of affected areas.
“The emotional strain on patients and staff once a centre has an infected patient is unmeasurable. We thank the Ministry of Health’s nephrologists and their HD units for accepting most infected HD patients from the private and NGO (non-governmental organisations) centres.”