What will you do when you are called for the COVID vaccine?
With the COVID vaccine roll out ramping up quickly after Christmas, Kidney Care UK, Kidney Wales and Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, joined forces to host a free virtual conference on 28 January for kidney patients to answer the multitude of questions about what the vaccine means for our community.
78 people joined the event and 63 questions were submitted in advance. Experts from the Welsh Clinical Renal Network were invited to answer your questions at the conference, and through a comprehensive written FAQ.
Susan Spence, Manager of the Welsh Renal Network, chaired the conference. She described the role of the Renal Network in commissioning adult renal services for the 3283 dialysis and transplant patients across Wales, emphasising the close collaboration with the kidney charities to provide support to patients and families which complements NHS services. Susan talked about the impact of Coronavirus on the Welsh kidney community and outlined the ‘plan of attack’ against the pandemic.
Against a background noise of myths and hearsay about the COVID vaccine, Consultant Renal Pharmacist, Professor Chris Brown from the South West Wales Renal Service, provided the key facts in order to help patients make an informed decision about the vaccine.
Chris and his team have first hand experience of vaccinating kidney patients. He explained that the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is comprised of three parts: the RNA (the genetic code), envelope (encapsulates the RNA) and a Spike protein (the mechanism through which the virus gains entry to human cells). The RNA and Spike protein has given scientists the opportunity to develop a safe and effective vaccine using mRNA technology (the ‘m’ stands for ‘messenger’) and non-replicating viral vector technology. This gives the body the ability to recognise the virus and mount an attack against it, thereby preventing or reducing the severity of the infection.
Consultant Transplant Surgeon, Dr Mike Stephens, who has previously hosted a number of Q&A sessions for patients regarding Coronavirus, and Lee White, Renal Pharmacist is Swansea Bay Health Board also joined the panel, to respond to questions from transplant patients.
The main themes from the questions asked by patients included:
- Immunosuppression and vaccine efficacy
- Vaccine suitability for those with autoimmune conditions
- The vaccine roll out plan for people with kidney disease
- Family member and carer prioritisation to receive the vaccine
- Side effects
The key messages from the conference were:
- The vaccine is safe. Your kidney care team and the Welsh Renal Clinical Network strongly advise you to have the vaccine when it is offered to you.
- When you are called for a vaccine you should make it a priority to attend – if you have any concerns or questions, speak to your kidney care team.
- The best way to protect yourself from COVID is to protect yourself from the virus. Even after vaccination you must continue to follow the COVID-19 guidance to protect you and those around you. Remember: Social distance, Wear a face mask, Wash your hands frequently.
“The impact of COVID has been heart breaking for people with kidney disease and for those who care for them. Now we have hope for brighter times ahead with a safe and effective vaccine. I’m fortunate to have be vaccinated myself and privileged to have given it to people with kidney disease. I look forward to the day all ours friends and colleagues across our kidney community have theirs.” (Professor Chris Brown, Consultant Renal Pharmacist, South West Wales Renal Service)
A full report with answers to all questions asked by patients, plus a recording of the webinar, can be found here:
Read further information:
COVID-19 vaccine – COVID Vaccine Facts
COVID-19 newsletter – COVID-19 Newsletter Issue 12