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Advocacy group writes to PMO, asks vaccine access for dialysis patients

The current vaccination eligibility is limited to all aged above 60 and people aged between 45 and 59 with co-morbidities, including kidney disease

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
March 16, 2021 11:39:47 pm
Palghar, vaccination, Palghar coronavirus vaccine, Palghar covid-19, Palghar news, Maharashtra covid-19 news, indian expressThe village had zero Covid-19 cases, but stories from nearby villages have scared the tribals. (File)

A PATIENT advocacy group for kidney disease, which requires dialysis, has written to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) requesting to broaden the eligibility criteria for vaccination that will allow all those undergoing dialysis, under any age group, to receive the shot.

The current vaccination eligibility is limited to all aged above 60 and people aged between 45 and 59 with co-morbidities, including kidney disease. “We lost many dialysis patients who contracted Covid-19. Now that vaccination is available, we can save many lives if age criteria is lowered,” said Vasundhara Raghavan from Kidney Warrior Foundation.

The foundation on Monday wrote to the PMO urging him to provide vaccination for all dialysis patients. The letter states that according to the group’s study, close to 71 per cent who suffer from chronic kidney disease belong to the age group of 15 to 30 years. It also states that the extended duration that patients spend at dialysis centres, where they come in contact with health workers and other patients for a period of three to four hours, increases the risk of infection.

In February, Kidney International published an editorial stating dialysis patients are at five to 20 times higher risk of infection than the general population and face 16 to 32 per cent higher risk of fatality. The journal called for urgent vaccination of all dialysis patients.

Co-author Vivekanand Jha tweeted stating risk of death in dialysis patients, even young, is 432 times more than age-matched general population.

Several patients have also inquired at vaccination centres if age criteria can be lowered for severe kidney ailments. Kamlesh Ahuja, 40, has been on dialysis support for the past 20 years; he needs dialysis twice a week. “I went to Jan Seva hospital for vaccination. Initially, they asked me to get a doctor’s certificate and proof for dialysis. I got all documents but the CoWIN portal declined my vaccination request since my age is less than 45. The vaccination centres can’t help us even if they want to,” Ahuja said.

At Cardinal hospital, 130 patients are on dialysis support. Several, aged below 45, have inquired with vaccination centres about whether they could receive the dose. Kidney patients, who are eligible for vaccination, have also requested the government to open up dialysis centres for vaccination. In Mumbai, the BMC has approved two such centres, but, across Maharashtra, districts are yet to give permission to dialysis centres.

On March 3, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis wrote to the Centre that there are over 10,000 dialysis patients in Mumbai alone and most are unable to visit crowded vaccination centres or wait in queues. Fadnavis urged Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to open up dialysis centres, train staff in vaccination, and provide vaccine to patients coming for dialysis in the centre.

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