Skip to main content

Important Information about COVID-19 and People with Chronic Kidney Disease

Latest Updates
Resources and Useful Links
General Information on COVID-19

 

Latest Updates

  • Health Canada Information on COVID-19 vaccines including authorized vaccines, types of vaccines and on-going safety monitoring:  Vaccines for COVID-19.
  • Fact sheet for COVID-19 Vaccine and Chronic Kidney Disease: Frequently Asked Questions developed by Ontario Renal Network.
  • Vaccine fact sheet for dialysis and transplant recipients, developed by BC Transplant.
  • Studies have shown that many transplant recipients do not respond to COVID-19 vaccination with the same efficacy as the general population, and therefore may still be at risk even after two vaccines.  It is recommended that this population continues to exhibit increased caution.
  • Recent studies have shown that a third dose of mRNA vaccine may increase protection to COVID-19 in certain populations, including transplant recipients.  Despite three doses of vaccine, some transplant recipients will continue to have a poor response, about 40% to 50% of the time compared to the general population and could remain unprotected.  Because of this, it is critical that household contacts and healthcare workers be fully vaccinated and that extra cautions should still be taken.  
  • Some provinces and health authorities have initiated third dose vaccine availability for specific patients, including transplant recipients. Please contact your local health department or transplant team in regards to booking a third dose. 
  • For more details please consult the Canadian Society of Transplantation’s National Transplant Consensus Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine.  As every case is different, please consult with your healthcare team about your individual situation before taking action.
  • It is important to note that while transplant recipients may show less protection after vaccination, current evidence shows that dialysis patients have stronger protection from two dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.  80-90% of patients on dialysis show a positive response to two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine which is similar to the general population.  Kidney Transplant candidates are encouraged to be fully vaccinated with two doses prior to transplant to maximize protection.  
  • People who are immunocompromised, such as dialysis or transplant patients should continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing measures and wash your hands well and frequently even if they have been vaccinated. Please note that even a full course of vaccination may not result in complete protection, and that extra cautions should still be taken.
  • At this time, renal units, hospitals and other health care facilities may have special procedures in place for dialysis or clinic visits. In advance of attending appointments, it is recommended that you check with your renal, dialysis or transplant unit for specific recommendations in your local area. Information may be available on the facility website(s).
  • Kidney Foundation programs continue to be offered.  


Resources and Useful Links

"STOP - No Visitors" door signs to download and print:

Provincial renal agencies monitoring the situation closely and providing guidelines for patients:  

Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line:  
1 833 784-4397

From the Public Health Agency of Canada: *
COVID-19 vaccines
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) 
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Outbreak Updates
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Travel Health Notices
Public Health Authorities  

* A Virtual Assistant is now available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website to answer your questions in real time (click on the maple leaf at the bottom of your screen). 

From the Canadian Society of Transplantation:
Canadian Society of Transplantation National Transplant Consensus Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine

From Canadian Blood Services:
COVID-19 FAQS for transplant candidates and recipients 
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): FAQs for Transplant Recipients


General Information on COVID-19

Health Canada is calling COVID-19 a serious health threat and the situation is evolving daily. 

COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk varies between and within communities, but given the number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.

Health Canada continues to reassess the public health risk based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

People with COVID-19 may have little or no symptoms. You may not know you have COVID-19 symptoms because they are similar to a cold or flu. Symptoms have included fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs. In severe cases, infection can lead to death.

Currently, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own.  

An official global travel advisory and pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice are in effect: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.

Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if:

  • You are concerned about your symptoms
  • You have a travel history to a region where severe coronaviruses are known to occur. Health Canada posts active travel health notices.
Children and adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney transplant recipients are at higher risk of serious illness, including COVID-19. There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:
  • Aged 65 and over
  • With compromised immune systems
  • With underlying medical conditions.

How to protect yourself from infection 

The following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to other people:
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes in a tissue or in your arm or sleeve, not in your hands, to prevent spreading germs to others. Immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. You can get infected by touching something that is contaminated with germs and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing: 
    • Stay at home, except for dialysis, and if possible, use a delivery or pick-up service for groceries and medications. Some grocery chains are offering the first hour of the day for seniors and people with a transplant.
    • Maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others.
    • Avoid all non-essential travel and gatherings which include movies, restaurants and shopping, even if those businesses remain open.
    • Work from home if you can.

About face masks

Recommendations and guidelines related to wearing a face mask vary from one jurisdiction to the next. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends:

“A mask or face covering can be homemade (instructions) or purchased, and should:

  • be made of at least 3 layers
    • 2 layers should be tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen
    • the third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric
  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping
  • allow for easy breathing
  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
  • be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • maintain its shape after washing and drying.”

Consult your local public health authority for measures in place in your area.

Nevertheless, The Kidney Foundation recommends wearing a face mask at all times when away from your home in places where other people are present. This particularly applies anyone diagnosed with kidney failure or who has received a kidney transplant. It is also very important to maintain a social distance of 2 meters and to wash your hands well and frequently.

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers more information, including tips and designs to make a cloth mask.

Kidney doctors contribute to plain-language information about evidence-informed masks at https://www.clothmasks.ca

What to do if you experience flu-like symptoms 

  • Contact your health care provider and/or your kidney healthcare team to ask for further advice.
  • Stay home and avoid others if possible.
  • If you have a medical appointment, call the office ahead of time for further advice.

Good information is the first step towards prevention. The Public Health Agency of Canada website offers detailed information on COVID-19 and provides regular updates. We recommend consulting their Coronavirus disease (COVID-19):Outbreak update pages to learn more about COVID-19 and steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Before making any decisions that could affect your health, talk to your doctor.