DIALYSIS patients attending Withybush hospital are among the first in-centre dialysis patients to receive their Covid-19 vaccine in the UK.

Since the start of the pandemic, people receiving renal dialysis treatment have lived in fear of Covid-19.

Patients with kidney failure are considered extremely vulnerable to the virus. Data from across the UK shows that once infected with Covid-19, a person receiving in-centre haemodialysis has a one in five risk of death within two weeks; far higher than the risk of death from Covid-19 in the general population which is under one in 200.

"We have lived in fear because people on dialysis who catch Covid are far more likely to become very unwell or die," said one local patient.

Despite this, dialysis patients are unable to shield because they must attend a dialysis unit regularly for life-saving treatment.

However, Withybush dialysis patients have now received their first dose of the vaccine, delivered during regular dialysis sessions.

"Treatment for this group of patients has not stopped during the pandemic with over 1,200 dialysis treatments a week being provided by our regional service," said consultant renal pharmacist, Professor Chris Brown.

Once staff were given the go ahead for urgent rollout by the Hywel Dda vaccination team, a team from the renal units was mobilised to administer the vaccine to patients while they underwent their dialysis treatment.

Renal pharmacists buddied with a specialist nurse at each of the region's dialysis centres.

"Over 99% of patients consented to the vaccine which is extremely high and much higher than may have been expected," said Professor Brown.

"I believe this is due to the fact that the vaccine was being given by the staff who care for these people week in, week out and who understand their complex care needs.

"The delivery of the vaccine programme was extremely effective. The team worked to get the first dose into people over a matter of days and not a single dose of the vaccine was wasted.''

This vaccination programme has demonstrated that, despite the challenges, administering vaccinations on dialysis units was possible and has demonstrated to other dialysis centres across the UK that they could follow suit.

Prof Brown concluded: "The dedicated staff who make up this very special renal service have worked relentlessly throughout the pandemic and under significant pressure to care for people who rely on us. The vaccine programme offers much needed hope for better months ahead."