Mar 17, 2022
All Three COVID-19 Vaccines Shown Effective for People with ESKD

While clinical studies have helped demonstrate the effectiveness and immunogenicity of the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson), these studies did not include dialysis patients largely due to the complexity of their conditions. 

And yet, more than 500,000 Americans live with end stage kidney disease (ESKD) and must receive life-sustaining dialysis care. Typically, people who receive dialysis in an outpatient center attend treatments as many as three to four times per week, making social distancing more difficult. Additionally, people with ESKD tend to experience medical complexity, including comorbid conditions that compromise their immune systems. 

DaVita Clinical Research (DCR), a wholly-owned subsidiary of DaVita Inc., conducted focused, retrospective studies to determine the effectiveness and immunogenicity of each of the three vaccines approved or authorized in the U.S. specifically among dialysis patients. DCR provides innovation in the kidney care community through retrospective research aimed at improving clinical outcomes and assists pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the design, recruitment and completion of clinical trials using its kidney research site network.

In the studies of Pfizer and Moderna, DCR matched and compared vaccine effectiveness of the vaccines in DaVita dialysis patients with DaVita dialysis patients who were unvaccinated. In both instances, vaccinated patients experienced lower rates of infection: Pfizer was 78% effective,[1] and Moderna was 73% effective.1 Vaccinated patients who experienced COVID-19—or breakthrough infections—were also less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated patients. 

DCR also compared the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a to the Pfizer vaccine in dialysis patients. The study, published in February 2021, observed no difference in rates of breakthrough infection between the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines—and both had similar effectiveness in rates of hospitalization and death in those with breakthrough infections.

“Vaccination remains the most effective manner of preventing severe illness due to COVID-19 for dialysis patients,” says Dr. Steven Brunelli, MCSE, vice president for DCR.

DaVita’s Role in Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, DaVita has worked in lockstep with the federal government to help protect the health and safety of people with end stage kidney disease (ESKD). A collaboration with the Administration and other kidney care organizations in March 2021 furthered this effort. Through this collaboration, DaVita helped provide people receiving dialysis care—as well as health care personnel-direct access to vaccines in outpatient dialysis centers.

To learn more about DCR, please visit


[1] 2021 DaVita Internal Analysis, Presented at ASN Kidney Week 2021