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Update to Members: COVID-19 vaccinations to begin for kidney patients in Group 4 next week

 COVID-19 vaccinations to begin for kidney patients in Group 4 next week (w/c 8th March)

The Irish Kidney Association’s Chief Executive Carol Moore had an online meeting yesterday (3rd March, 2021) with the Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry and Professor Martin Cormican to discuss the upcoming roll out of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The very good news is that vaccinations will begin to be offered to people in the revised Group 4 (See image below) from next week (week commencing 8th March).

Obviously, your decision to be vaccinated rests between you and the advice of your health care professionals.


Arrangements for revised group 4

Planning is now nearly complete on the vaccination roll out to Group 4. If you are in this Group 4, vaccinations will be organised by your hospital or dialysis unit, who will be in touch over the next few weeks.  For logistical reasons, in some cases the location may not be your hospital or clinic, but may instead be in another public place such as a hotel.

People do not need to do anything, the HSE or your healthcare team will contact you when it’s your turn to be vaccinated.

The HSE ask for your patience on this as it will take a number of weeks to identify, contact and arrange vaccinations for people who meet the criteria to be in this revised Group 4.



Different arrangements will apply for different allocation groups and these are being planned at the moment.


Which vaccine?

At this stage, the vaccine being given is the AstraZeneca. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has advised any of the approved vaccines are suitable for use for patients in this group and that the priority was to offer an effective vaccine as quickly as possible.

NIAC have also advised that it was preferable for kidney patients to get the mRNA vaccine if was available soon. The reason for this, was because NIAC considered that there was a better chance of a stronger immune response to the mRNA vaccine in kidney patients.

However, the HSE has looked into this and found that all the available deliveries of mRNA vaccine for the next few weeks are committed to the group of people aged 70 years and older. It would take weeks before there was mRNA vaccine available for kidney patients and it is safer to go ahead as soon as possible with the AstraZeneca vaccine which is available next week.

Many of you will know that the first research study of the AstraZeneca vaccine showed protection of about 60%, however, further studies showed higher protection (above 80% in the most recent study) and all of the vaccines provided excellent protection against severe disease

You can find the patient information leaflet from AstraZeneca here.


2nd Dose of vaccination

You will be contacted for the 2nd vaccination, which will be due (per the manufacturer’s instructions) 12 weeks after the first dose is given. The risk of being admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19 is reduced by 94%, 4 to 5 weeks after just 1 dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.


Do not get your COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, including polyethylene glycol (found in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines) or polysorbate 80 (found in the AstraZeneca vaccine) – the vaccinator will ask you about any allergies you may have
  • have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
  • currently have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 – wait until it has been 4 weeks since you first noticed symptoms or you first tested positive
  • have symptoms of COVID-19 – self-isolate (stay in your room)and phone your GP to get tested
  • have a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) – wait until you feel better.

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy, you should talk to your doctor before getting your COVID-19 vaccine.


Revised Groups 5 and 7

Planning for these groups is under way with further details on whether GPs or hospitals will deliver the vaccinations to come shortly.

For those patients falling into the eGFR groups it is important you and your health care professionals know your eGFR, as this will ensure you obtain the correct priority.

GPs are currently giving the vaccine to Group 1 and 2. Many GPs have created a standby list in case people do not turn up for their appointments.

If you can travel to your GP within 30 minutes, let your GP know this and ask to be placed on their cancellation or standby list.


What is eGFR?

eGFR – Estimated glomerular filtration rate is the best test to measure your level of kidney function and determine your stage of kidney disease. Your doctor can calculate it from the results of your blood creatinine test, your age, body size and gender.

The image below shows how eGFR is used to determine the stage of kidney disease.


16 to 17-year-olds

Planning is underway to see how the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to this group. This is the only vaccine currently licensed for this group.


Under 16-year-olds

International clinical trials are under way to see how safe and effective these vaccines are for children.


Not in any priority group?

The NIAC has stated

“This guidance will be subject to ongoing review as more evidence becomes available, about COVID-19 vaccines, their safety, efficacy, effectiveness, impact on virus transmission and population immunity, and as new vaccines are authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and become available in Ireland. Different weighting may need to be given to different values and priority of ranking as more evidence emerges.”

So, if you are not in any priority group yet, this may change in the future.

The speed at which researchers and health care professionals are working is inspiring. Expect further news and developments, with the situation changing daily.



We are organising a free online information event on COVID-19 vaccinations with medical professionals which will take place in mid-March. We will be in touch with more details soon.

You can email questions you would like answered to with subject line “VQ”.

Please note individual personal clinical questions cannot be answered.

There is a significant amount of vaccination misinformation circulating, so we urge you to only consult reputable sources.

You might find the following sources useful

National Renal Office

HSE information on vaccination

The European Society for organ transplantation – COVID 19 vaccines studies

Transplant Australia webinar on vaccination  (2nd half more relevant)


Other upcoming events

World Kidney Day, Thursday the 11th March. Take part in our walking challenge with the chance to win an IKA facemask

Organ Donor Awareness Week, Saturday the 27th March to Saturday 3rd April

While we cannot hold physical events for safety reasons due to COVID-19, we are running these awareness campaigns online with prizes for some activities. Watch out for further emails and follow our social media channels.


Need help with technology?

If you are over 55, Age Action Ireland will provide free one-to-one training. Click here for details.


We will be in touch again soon. Until then stay safe and don’t forget to look for updates on our social media channels.