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Vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes in the maintenance dialysis population in Ontario, Canada

Oliver MJ, Thomas D, Balamchi S, Ip J, Naylor K, Dixon SN, McArthur E, Kwong J, Perl J, Atiquzzaman M, Singer J, Yeung A, Hladunewich M, Yau K, Garg AX, Leis JA, Levin A, Krajden M, Blake PG. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2022; 33(4):839-49. Epub 2022 Mar 9. DOI:

Background — Vaccination studies in the hemodialysis population have demonstrated decreased antibody response compared with healthy controls, but vaccine effectiveness for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe disease is undetermined.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study in the province of Ontario, Canada, between December 21, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Receipt of vaccine, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and related severe outcomes (hospitalization or death) were determined from provincial health administrative data. Receipt of one and two doses of vaccine were modeled in a time-varying cause-specific Cox proportional hazards model, adjusting for baseline characteristics, background community infection rates, and censoring for non-COVID death, recovered kidney function, transfer out of province, solid organ transplant, and withdrawal from dialysis.

Results — Among 13,759 individuals receiving maintenance dialysis, 2403 (17%) were unvaccinated and 11,356 (83%) had received at least one dose by June 30, 2021. Vaccine types were BNT162b2 (n=8455, 74%) and mRNA-1273 (n=2901, 26%); median time between the first and second dose was 36 days (IQR 28–51). The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes for one dose compared with unvaccinated was 0.59 (95% CI, 0.46 to 0.76) and 0.54 (95% CI, 0.37 to 0.77), respectively, and for two doses compared with unvaccinated was 0.31 (95% CI, 0.22 to 0.42) and 0.17 (95% CI, 0.1 to 0.3), respectively. There were no significant differences in vaccine effectiveness among age groups, dialysis modality, or vaccine type.

Conclusions — COVID-19 vaccination is effective in the dialysis population to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes, despite concerns about suboptimal antibody responses.

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