COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritisation: Dialysis Patients are at a higher risk of COVID-19 than healthy above-45-year-olds

The Government of India announced they are opening up COVID-19 vaccination to all those who are above 45 years of age from April 1, 2021. They decided this based on the statistic that 88% of deaths from COVID-19 infections were from this age group. The case fatality rate (% of people who die from among those diagnosed with COVID-19) is 2.85%. Seems logical enough.

Except, they seemed to have overlooked one more statistic. 

The case fatality rate of those on Maintenance Hemodialysis (MHD) is 22.9%. Almost ten times that of the above 45 age group. Also remember, MHD patients need to go to a Dialysis Centre thrice a week and are exposed to the risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus during their dialysis sessions. With low immunity, dialysis patients contract this virus more easily than the general population. Healthy 45-year-olds can stay at home. No exposure to the virus unless they go out without a mask.

There are less than 2 lakh dialysis patients in the country. What is the problem in vaccinating them?

Like I argued before, it should be fairly easy to vaccinate all of them fairly quickly. Involve the dialysis centres.

India is now firmly in the middle of the second wave. It is impossible to say how bad this is going to be. Unfortunately, there is a lot of hesitancy among healthcare workers and patients alike to get vaccinated. News reports about the side effects of some vaccines, despite experts clearly saying that benefits far outweigh the risks, have not helped. 

We need to understand this. Vaccines are our only long-term defense against this disease. Those at risk, like healthcare workers and dialysis patients, especially need to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We need to stop listening to what forwarded messages on WhatsApp say and read up a little for ourselves on the internet (on reliable sites, again). The data is there for all to see.