ROCKVILLE, Md. (August 18, 2021) — LaVarne A. Burton, President and CEO of the American Kidney Fund (AKF), today issues the following statement in response to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowing immunocompromised people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot:
"People who are immunocompromised, including kidney transplant recipients, have been living with fear and uncertainty ever since research showed that they were less likely to develop antibodies from COVID-19 vaccines. AKF and the patients we serve are grateful to CDC and FDA for moving quickly to support a booster shot recommendation for those who had the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and are solid organ transplant recipients or are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have a similar level of immunocompromise. This extra layer of protection against COVID-19 comes as much-needed reassurance for patients who have a significantly higher risk of severe illness, hospitalizations and death from the coronavirus.
"Further, AKF is grateful that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that Medicare will cover the cost of this booster shot for Medicare beneficiaries.
"Anyone who is uncertain about whether they qualify for this booster shot should speak with their physician.
"AKF urges the CDC and FDA to quickly assess whether those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should also receive a booster shot.
"While getting the vaccine, and a booster shot, are strongly encouraged for those who are immunocompromised, it is still important for the kidney community to take CDC-recommended precautions, like wearing masks in public places and practicing social distancing, to protect themselves from COVID-19, particularly as cases from the Delta variant surge across the U.S.
"If people who are immunocompromised become exposed to COVID-19, it is critical to speak with their doctor or care team and seek treatment with antibody therapy right away. The FDA's recent emergency use authorization of a preventive monoclonal antibody treatment for those who are immunocompromised is a great step towards preventing serious illness in this patient population. However, this treatment is primarily available at large hospitals and health systems in large urban areas, meaning that patients in rural areas or those without adequate transportation may not have access to this beneficial treatment. Additionally, education about the possibly of getting post-exposure antibody treatment is critical, and factors like internet access and health literacy put some at a disadvantage.
"Ensuring equitable dissemination of the vaccine, the booster shot and antibody treatment to protect immunocompromised individuals continues to be a challenge that needs to be prioritized. As new information and research becomes available, AKF will continue keeping kidney patients informed and advocating for the protections they need in their fight against kidney disease."
For more information about COVID-19 and kidney disease, visit KidneyFund.org/covid-19.
Kidney patients can access additional COVID-19 resources at KidneyFund.org/coronavirus.
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.