Vaccination is an important strategy to help reduce the risk of developing infectious diseases, including COVID-19, caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. We are carefully monitoring the medical information, side effects, and facts around vaccination to provide the kidney community with the the best current advice.
For people who are immunocompromised, such as those living with kidney disease (stage 3b), dialysis or transplanted, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks and fall into category 1b for the vaccination rollout.
As borders are increasingly opened up and winter starts, we are all at risk of old and new strains of coronavirus - with resultant shutdowns, hospitalisation and unfortunately death. Additionally, flu season is coming so it will be important to get your flu vaccine in time. Note, you need to leave two weeks between your flu and COVID-19 vaccine.
We support the following information and recommendations for people living with kidney disease as made by the COVID-19 National Transplantation and Donation Rapid Response Taskforce:
- Accessing the COVID vaccine through a GP clinic or max vaccination hub in your area sooner rather than later is a good idea.
- The syndrome associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine involving thrombosis (clotting) with thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count) is a very, very rare risk and COVID is still a very real and bigger threat. ** If you have previously been diagnosed with cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CSVT) or heparin induced thrombocytopenia syndrome (HITS) seek advice from your GP/nephrologist/renal service before proceeding with vaccination**
- ATAGI has recommended that in general, the Pfizer vaccination is preferred over the AstraZeneca Vaccine for people under 50 years of age.
- Currently the Pfizer vaccine will not be readily available until later in the year.
- If you are a transplant candidate or recipient under the age of 50 there is a higher risk of more severe illness or death if you contract COVID compared to the general population.
- Partners and household contacts aged under 50 years old should follow the general public health message to avoid the AstraZeneca vaccine at this time.
- There may be individual circumstances where the benefits of being vaccinated with the available COVID vaccine (including the AstraZeneca vaccine) significantly outweigh the very low risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. This individual patient decision should be discussed with your kidney specialist. In such cases, this is in line with the ATAGI recommendations which state that the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine “can be used in adults under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual”.
If you have a specific question or concern regarding COVID vaccination, we suggest that you contact your own specialist or transplant/renal unit for advice, because local conditions and advice vary across Australia. This advice will be updated as more information becomes available.