Indiana opens COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to dialysis patients

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FILE – In this file photo dated Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, a health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered in Fiumicino, near Rome’s international airport. The World Health Organization Monday Feb. 15, 2021, granted an emergency authorization to the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca, a move that should allow its partners to ship millions of doses to countries worldwide as part of a U.N.-backed program to stop the pandemic.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, FILE)

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is opening COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to dialysis patients. It is the first time a specific group can get a shot after the state began its aged-based rollout.

On Wednesday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced Indiana will expand eligibility to 10,000 dialysis patients.

5,300 patients with Fresenius Kidney Care in Indiana have already signed consent forms. Starting Tuesday, more than 80 of the company’s clinics in the state will start to administer COVID-19 vaccine to patients. They hope to get to a majority of the 5,300 patients within two weeks.

“We have infrastructure to administer to our patents three times a week in the dialysis station,” said Malissa Retz, Senior Regulatory Manager.

Retz said Fresenius Kidney Care has been in contact with Indiana State Department of Health for the last four weeks. The dialysis treatment center is grateful for the opportunity to be entrusted with the vaccine.

Their health care teams will be able to vaccinate patients at their clinics. This means dialysis patients in Indiana will not have to sign up and travel to a different vaccination site.

“If we vaccinate at our clinics that opens additional slots throughout the community for the government to serve,” she said.

Fresenius Kidney Care said people on dialysis are more likely to require hospitalization if they contract COVID, even in comparison to those over the age of 65. That is why they believe dialysis patients should be near the front of the line for vaccination.

Retz believes they will also be able to combat vaccine hesitancy by allowing patients to receive a dose in an environment they are comfortable in and with a health care team they already know.

“It is the right thing for the right reason at the right time,” said Retz.

On February 23, Indiana opened vaccine appointments for Hoosiers 60 to 64 years old. A small number of other health conditions will follow soon. Those include sickle cell disease, down syndrome, post-solid organ transplant recipients, people who are actively in treatment for cancer now or in the last three months, or with active primary lung cancer or active hematologic cancers.

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