"For my family and my patients."
"To help set an example."
"To be able to squeeze my nephew again."
"In honor of the patients we’ve lost this past year."
These are just a few of the responses Los Angeles-based DaVita teammates offered when asked why they decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
One year into the pandemic, hope is on the horizon as vaccines arrive.
But the vaccine rollout has been challenging, further burdening already overwhelmed health systems in hard-hit areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in Southern California, which is experiencing a public health crisis.
In LA County, COVID cases and death rates have risen to extraordinary levels. The county is working feverishly to erect mass vaccination sites, and the health care community is moving just as quickly to vaccinate frontline workers so the region can move into the next phase of the state’s vaccination plan.
To help this effort, Southern California’s kidney care community is working together to vaccinate dialysis workers, including physicians, nurses, patient care technicians and hospital medical assistants. Across the greater LA area, DaVita has set up a dozen COVID vaccine sites within its dialysis centers where more than 2,700 DaVita care team members have received their vaccines to date. The kidney care provider has vaccinated more than 250 non-DaVita dialysis workers across the LA area as well, to support other providers as they get their own sites up and running.
“We’re on the tail end of a year that’s tested our health care community like nothing before,” said Michela Leytham, a DaVita nurse who has been volunteering to vaccinate her fellow LA dialysis workers. “Each dialysis worker I vaccinate has a moment of hope and light that I’ve been so grateful to witness.”
By early February, it’s expected that more than 4,000 Southern California dialysis workers will be vaccinated. This collaboration between dialysis providers to vaccinate frontline workers in LA County is a continuation of a collaboration established at the start of the pandemic. The goal is to give all dialysis workers swift access to the COVID-19 vaccine and continue to protect patients and staff.
Vaccinating dialysis workers is essential to keeping them healthy and ensuring their ability to care for at-risk patients. Advancing age and underlying health conditions also make them especially vulnerable if exposed to COVID.
Throughout the vaccination push, dialysis workers are connecting with each other to learn the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, dispel misinformation and move forward as a community.
“As a Black woman, I know about the mistrust that some communities of color have of vaccines and medical care in general,” said Kristol Clyde, facility administrator at DaVita Huntington Beach Dialysis. “But between my friend’s father’s death, and my work supporting dialysis patients with COVID, my perspective on the vaccine changed. I decided to put my fears aside and think of my community first. I was excited to be a part of history and knew by taking this one small action, I could make a difference and help end COVID.”