Last updated 18/05/2022

Please see below generalised Covid-19 Government guidance. We regularly update the page in response to any further announcements or developments. For further information, please call our freephone helpline if you would like to chat to one of our advisers about your concerns - 0800 169 09 36

Contents:

Latest Information for Patients

Living with COVID - April 2022
The Government has removed the remaining COVID-19 restrictions. This has major implications for people with kidney disease and healthcare professionals. The UK Kidney Association (UKKA) and charity partners have considered these changes and have worked jointly to produce a consensus statement with updates. To view the consensus please visit here.

The Kidney Charities Together group have created a new COVID-19 vaccination guide for kidney patients - 08/04/2022
The guide summarises who is eligible for which vaccination dose/booster, the time frames the vaccinations should take place and how to book. To view click here.

Updated List of COVID-19 Symptoms – 04/04/2022
Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in adults can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.

There is updated advice for people with symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19 which can be found here.

COVID-19 Access to Lateral Flow Tests - 31/03/2022
The Government have provided their next steps for living with COVID, the new guideline outlines free COVID-19 tests will continue to available to help protect specific groups one free testing for the general public ends.

From 1 April 2022 access to LFT tests will be free to access in England to the following groups should they develop symptoms of COVID-19:

  • People who are eligible for COVID-19 treatments (people with kidney transplants, on dialysis or with CKD Stages 4 or 5)

  • People living or working in some high risk settings for example institutions/care homes where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks

  • People being discharged from hospitals to care homes or hospices

Lateral flow tests will be sent to people at higher risk from COVID to keep at home and use if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 to provide access to the COVID treatments.

People in hospital will have a PCR test where it is necessary for care and treatment.

The NHS and social care staff will continue to test whether they have symptoms or not during April.

Some free testing will continue during April in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. In Wales the cut-off is July.

Spring Booster - 21/03/2022
An additional booster dose will be available for those:

  • aged 75 years and over

  • residents in a care home for older adults

  • individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed, as defined in the Green Book

Appointment dates you’ll be offered start from 3 months after your previous dose, but booking an appointment around 6 months after your previous dose is preferable.

This will be a fifth dose for people who are immunosuppressed. Timeframes for the immunosuppressed is stated in the below quote from the Green Book:

The official handbook of vaccinations the Green Book states:
"Immunosuppressed individuals who have received an additional primary dose may have received the booster (fourth) dose more recently. These latter individuals and other eligible people who received their last vaccine more recently should also be offered the booster during the spring campaign providing there is at least three months from the previous dose. This will ensure they have additional protection against a potential summer wave and will align with their peers to facilitate an autumn programme."

People in England can book Spring booster appointments online, attend a walk-in clinic, or telephone 119 to book an appointment. When attend vaccination appointment, you should take medical documents confirming that you were immunosuppressed when you had your last dose.

In Scotland and Wales, invitations for the booster will be sent out soon. Northern Ireland will announce its plans soon.

This NHS document explains which vaccine doses different groups are currently being offered.

For more information on vaccinations please visit our COVID-19 Vaccination Information section.

For the latest NHS information and advice about COVID-19 including symptoms, testing, vaccination and staying at home visit here.


Recent and Upcoming Government Guidance

England – The government has removed remaining domestic restrictions in England. There are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet inside
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces

Wales - Wales has moved to alert level 0. The Welsh Government states from 18th April face coverings remain a legal requirement in health and care settings and from 9th May if the current public health situation remains stable, the remaining restriction will be removed. Find a summary of the recent and upcoming changes here.

Scotland - Scotland's government guidance can be found here.

Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland's government guidance can be found here.


COVID-19 Treatments

On 1 April 2022 the government changed its policy on COVID-19 testing in England. Patients eligible for COVID-19 treatments will still be able to access lateral flow tests from the government but they will no longer be automatically sent PCR tests. If you were previously sent a PCR test you can keep it, but do not use it unless asked to do so by your NHS team.

You will be sent one initial pack of lateral flow tests to keep at home. This is a test you can do at home and can be used to find out if you have COVID-19. If you have not received the lateral flow tests by 11 April but you think you may be eligible for COVID-19 treatments, you can order a pack at GOV.UK or 119 if needed. The test kits contain instructions and links to support those who need assistance in testing.

You must use lateral flow tests supplied by the government. The results of tests bought privately, such as from a supermarket or pharmacy, cannot currently be registered on GOV.UK and you will not be contacted about treatment if you test positive using these tests.

More Patients to Access Second Ground-Breaking Antiviral - 12/04/2022
Paxlovid has been added to the PANORAMIC national study. It is already available directly through the NHS to those whose immune systems mean they are at higher risk of serious illness who test positive for the virus – including those who are immunocompromised.

The PANORAMIC study makes antivirals available to a large number of patients, whilst collecting further data on how the antivirals work where the majority of the adult population is vaccinated. It ensures antivirals are being used in the most effective way and is crucial in ensuring clinicians have the full information to prescribe antiviral treatments to patients in future.

The study is open to adults over the age of 50 or those aged 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition that can increase the risk of developing severe Covid, who have received a positive Covid test result, and who are experiencing symptoms that started in the previous five days. Read the full press release from the Department of Health and Social Care here.

View and download the Kidney Charities Together guide on what you need to know about COVID-19 treatments. (04/03/2022). If you are not eligible for the treatments you can sign up to the PANORAMIC study.

New Approved Drug by MHRA - Evusheld - 17/03/2022
A new medicine, Evusheld has  been authorised for COVID-19 prevention. Evusheld has been approved for use in adults who are unlikely to mount an immune response from COVID-19 vaccination or for whom vaccination is not recommended.

Evusheld is authorised to be used before being exposed to the risk of COVID-19 infection in order to prevent disease.

We shall await further details on how it will be provided to those people at risk. For the full announcement please visit GOV.UK here.

Treatment Studies
The Panoramic PEP Substudy are testing whether antivirals prevent Covid transmissions to people living with someone who has the virus.

The PROTECT-V study are testing whether Sotrovimab is effective at preventing the infection in people with kidney disease and immunosuppressed people.

The Melody Research Study for Transplant Recipients aims to estimate how many immunosuppressed people in the UK have antibodies that may provide protection against COVID-19 after three vaccines and then assess whether people with antibodies have lower rates of infection and severe outcomes of infection than people without antibodies. The results of this study may help assess the impact of the vaccines on the level of antibody response to COVID-19 across the UK and help guide public health policy towards vulnerable groups.


RESEARCH AND STUDIES ON CORONAVIRUS


Reducing the Risk of COVID Infection

There are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated

  • Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside

  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces

  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and stay at home if positive. Find out more here.

There is also information from the NHS on how to cope with anxiety surrounding getting 'back to normal'.

Recommendations for Minimising the Risk of Transmission of COVID-19 in UK Adult Haemodialysis Units 

It is important people at highest risk from Covid-19 remain cautious. For more information on working from home and precautionary measures find out more here.

Please find below some supportive links for the people whose immune system means they are at higher risk:

In England

In Scotland

In Wales

In Northern Ireland


COVID-19 Vaccination Information

ENGLAND - COVID-19 VACCINATION

Book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments here 

The Kidney Charities Together group have created a new COVID-19 vaccination guide for kidney patients - 08/04/2022
The guide summarises who is eligible for which vaccination dose/booster, the time frames the vaccinations should take place and how to book. To view click here.

1st and 2nd Dose 

You can use this service to book a 1st or 2nd dose of the vaccine if you or your child are aged 5 years old or over.

When you can book a 2nd dose 

You should be able to book a 2nd dose on the day after your 1st dose. If you or your child are:

  • 18 years old or over - you'll be offered 2nd dose appointments from 8 weeks after your 1st dose

  • under 18 years old - you'll be offered 2nd dose appointments from 12 weeks after your 1st dose.

How to get an earlier 2nd dose if you're under 18 years old and at-risk 

If you or your child are under 18 years old and at high risk from COVID-19 you're eligible for a 2nd dose from 8 weeks after your 1st dose.

However, this service will only offer you appointments from 12 weeks after your 1st dose.

To get your 2nd dose from 8 weeks, please either:

  • contact your GP surgery

  • go to a walk-in site with a letter from a GP that says you're eligible for a 2nd dose from 8 weeks after your 1st dose

Additional primary doses for people with a severely weakened immune system

People who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their 1st or 2nd dose will be offered an additional 3rd primary dose of the vaccine followed by a booster (4th dose) and booster (5th dose).

You can use this service to book to book an additional primary dose for people with a severely weakened immune system aged 12 years old or over.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine for people with a severely weakened immune system.

When you can book an additional primary dose (3rd dose)
You'll be able to book an additional primary dose (3rd dose) when it’s been 26 days since your 2nd dose.

The appointment dates you'll be offered will start from 8 weeks (56 days) after your 2nd dose.

Things you’ll need to bring to your vaccination appointment:

Someone at the site will talk to you and check your evidence to make sure you're eligible.

Examples of things you can bring to show you're eligible include:

  • a letter from your GP or hospital specialist inviting you to get the 3rd dose for people with a severely weakened immune system

  • a hospital letter that describes the condition or treatment that caused you to have a severely weakened immune system at the time of your 1st or 2nd dose

  • a prescription or a medicine box with your name and the date showing when the medicine was prescribed - this must show that you had a severely weakened immune system at the time of your 1st or 2nd dose

Boosters
You can book a booster dose if you or your child are either:

  • aged 16 years old or over

Spring Boosters
You can book a spring booster if you or your child are either:

The appointment dates you'll be offered start from 3 months (91 days) after your previous dose, but booking an appointment around 6 months after your previous dose is preferable to get maximum protection from a spring booster.

Advice for children aged 12 to 15 years old and their parents or guardians 

A set of COVID-19 vaccination resources for children and young people are available on GOV.UK in a variety of languages, Braille and Easy Read. These resources are to help children, young people and their parents or guardians make a decision about whether to get vaccinated.

There's also a list of pre-screening questions on GOV.UK to help you and your child consider what is likely to be asked at your appointment. You do not need to complete this before you go.

Consent to treatment is an important part of the process. A consent form is available on GOV.UK to help you and your child discuss this decision, but you do not need to print or bring the form with you. Staff at the vaccination site will ask for consent before giving the vaccine.

If you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test result, you need to wait before getting any dose of the vaccine. You need to:

  • wait 4 weeks (28 days) if you're aged 18 years old or over

  • wait 12 weeks (84 days) if you're aged 5 to 17 years old

  • wait 4 weeks (28 days) if you're aged 5 to 17 years old and at high-risk from COVID-19

This starts from the date that symptoms started, or the date of the positive test result, whichever was earlier.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, but has not had a test, they should wait until their symptoms are better to get a COVID-19 vaccine. You can talk to a healthcare professional at the site about this.


SCOTLAND - VACCINATIONS
Find out who can get the COVID-19 vaccine here 

Public Health Scotland has created a resource centre where you can find information about the Covid-19 vaccination, including where they'll be administered.

WALES - VACCINATIONS
Find out who can get the COVID-19 vaccine here

The Welsh government has revealed the locations of vaccination centres across the country.

NORTHERN IRELAND – VACCINATIONS
Find out who can get a COVID-19 vaccine here


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved three Covid-19 vaccinations. The first vaccine to be approved has been developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

The second vaccine has been developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and roll-out started in the UK on Monday 4th January 2021. Dialysis patient Brian Pinker was the first person to receive the vaccination. 

The third vaccine has been produced by Moderna. The first dose was administered in Wales on 7th April 2021.


Travel

England - Travel information for people in England. 

Scotland - Travel rules and information for people in Scotland.

Wales - Travel information for people in Wales.

Northern Ireland - Travel advice for people in Northern Ireland.

Dialysis Away From Base (DAFB) - A joint statement from professional and patient societies can be read here


Working Safely - Information for Employers

New Public Health Guidance for Employers and Safe at Work Letter Updated 29/04/2022

New public health guidance has been published for employers in England to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The updated Safe at Work Letter can be shared with employers to support discussions on safety at work.

Northern Ireland Guidance – View here

Scotland Guidance – View here

Wales Guidance – View here


Shielding Ends

Shielding programme ends for the most vulnerable – 15/09/2021
Guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 - 24/12/2021
The shielding programme ended in England on 15 September 2021.

This means that people who were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) will not be advised to shield in the future or follow specific guidance.

This is because we know a lot more about the virus and what makes someone more or less vulnerable to COVID-19, the vaccine continues to be successfully rolled out, and treatments are becoming available. If your immune system means you are at higher risk from COVID-19, there is specific guidance for you (including a definition of what this means).


NKF Lanyards, Facemasks and COVID-19 Perspective Guidance on Home Dialysis

NKF has produced a lanyard for people to wear when out in public, to remind others to social distance. To order our lanyards or NKF branded face masks please visit here or call 01909 544999 where you can place your order and we can take payment by card.

There is strong evidence that patients who dialyse at home are able to protect themselves better from the pandemic compared to patients who dialyse in a centre. It is for this reason, the National Kidney Federation (NKF) is running a campaign to increase the incidence of home dialysis across the country and this pamphlet has been put together to help you to understand the issues that you should think about if you are considering home dialysis. Read ‘A COVID-19 Perspective on Home Dialysis’ here.


Webinars

Living with COVID-19 Webinar 21st April 2022
A community webinar chaired by Pascoe Sawyers, External Affairs Lead, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) took place on 21st April. 

You can view the webinar here.

Vaccination Webinar 7th February 2022 
NKF partnered with Kidney Care UK, Kidney Research UK, Kidney Wales, Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity and UK Kidney Association to deliver a webinar regarding the developments in our knowledge about the Covid vaccines and treatments. We were joined by Dr Andrew Frankel, Dr Rebecca Suckling, Professor Liz Lightstone and Professor Richard Haynes.

You can view the webinar here.

Vaccination webinar 29th June 2021
NKF partnered with Kidney Care UK, Kidney Research UK, Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity and UK Kidney Association to deliver a webinar regarding the developments in our knowledge about the Covid vaccines and how people with suppressed immune systems are responding, as well as a discussion about how to return to normal activities and cope with anxiety as restrictions ease. We were joined by four kidney doctors, Dr Rebecca Suckling from Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, Dr Andrew Frankel, Dr Steve McAdoo, and Dr Michelle Willicombe from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. 

You can view the webinar here.


Further Information and Support 

The NKF partnered with Kidney Research UK in 2021 to fund a study to discover how well COVID-19 vaccinations work in people who go to hospital for dialysis.

The NKF, along with other kidney charities, released a Covid-19 vaccination information for patients guide in January 2021, which included some common questions people have asked, with answers from kidney specialists.

News about the work NHS Blood and Transplant are doing to reduce the impact of coronavirus

We have put together some information to help you cope with stress and anxiety during these uncertain times.

Long Covid and the Covid Recovery Service 
The online service NHS Your Covid Recovery is for those who have had Covid and want to understand what has happened and what you might expect as part of your recovery.

If you think you have Covid symptoms you can use the NHS 111 assessment.

Further general information and daily updates can be found on the GOV.UK.

Information and guidance for renal professionals.

The Kidney Quality Improvement Partnership (KQuIP) has produced an animated video about receiving haemodialysis during the pandemic.