You are here

What you need to know about COVID-19 in 2022

Is it time for your booster? Find out now

New August 15, 2022

  • Boosters are an important part of protecting yourself from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • The CDC recommends vaccines and boosters for most people including those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised
  • CDC has a new easy-to-use tool to let you know if it’s time to receive a booster

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched a free, interactive, online tool that lets you know if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. All you need to do is complete a quick questionnaire – no personal information is collected – and you can immediately find out if you are eligible for another vaccine dose or a booster.

Use the new tool to find out when you or a family member can get your booster – it’s a quick and easy way to know for sure.

Key takeaways:

It can be hard to keep up with the latest guidance about vaccines and boosters. The most recent CDC recommendation is for everyone ages 6 months and older to receive the appropriate primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and also get:

  • 1 Booster:
    • Everyone ages 5 years and older after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series, if eligible
  • 2 Boosters:
    • Adults ages 50 years and older
    • Some people ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised

Remember, it is never too late to get the added protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. 

  • If you need help scheduling a vaccine/booster, contact the location that set up your previous appointment
  • If you need to get a vaccine/booster in a location different from where you received your previous vaccination, there are several ways you can find a vaccine provider
  • There are several other ways you can look for vaccination/booster providers near you including:
    • Asking your doctor, pharmacist, or community health center if they provide vaccines/boosters
    • Contacting your state health department to find additional vaccination/booster locations in the area
    • Checking your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination/booster appointments are available.
    • Search vaccines.gov
    • Text your ZIP code to 438829
    • Call 1-800-232-0233

COVID-19 pandemic impacted treatment decision-making for older patients with kidney disease

  • Study looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted shared decision-making between clinicians, older patients with chronic kidney disease, and their care partners
  • While clinicians supported more home-based treatment plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions with patients and their caregivers recommending these options were limited

COVID-19 interfered with regular medical care for many people, including older patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). A recent study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) examined how shared decision-making—the process by which clinicians, patients, and their care partners work together to make decisions about treatments and care—was impacted by COVID-19.

In this study, researchers interviewed 76 adults (39 older patients with advanced CKD, 17 care partners, and 20 clinicians) from Boston, Portland (Maine), San Diego, and Chicago from August 2020 to December 2020. The researchers found that clinicians supported more home-based treatment plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, but actual conversations with patients and their caregivers encouraging these options were limited. Some patients reported feeling like they needed to figure out how to cope with COVID-19 and their kidney treatment options on their own. 

While the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were certainly filled with concern for many, we now have learnings that can be used moving forward. The authors of the study have stated that improvements can be made. For example, in shared decision-making during a pandemic and afterward, clinicians should consider promoting and encouraging conversations with patients who want to talk about COVID-19, with an emphasis on safety and quality of life, including the risks posed to them by COVID-19 and the impact of COVID-19 on kidney treatment options.

Key takeaways:

Some CKD treatments require outside care, for example, kidney transplants, but did you know that there are other life-saving treatments that can be done at home, such as home dialysis? In fact, in uncertain times, like a pandemic, home dialysis may, in fact, be a safer, more convenient, and less stressful option. There are a few different types to consider and discuss with your kidney doctor:

  • Conventional home hemodialysis: You do this three times a week for three to four hours or longer each time. You and your care partner are trained to do dialysis safely and to handle any problems that may come up.
  • Short daily home hemodialysis: This is usually done five to seven times a week using dialysis machines designed for short daily home treatments, which usually last about two hours each. Because you are doing dialysis more often, less fluid generally needs to be removed each time. This reduces symptoms like headaches, nausea, cramping, and feeling “washed out” after treatment.
  • Nocturnal home hemodialysis: Long, slow treatments done at night while you sleep. You may do this kind of dialysis six nights a week or every other night. This depends on what your doctor prescribes for you. Treatments usually last about six to eight hours.

If you would like more information about home dialysis, please contact us.

Fewer people tried to quit smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Smoking is a risk factor that can lead to serious diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, and heart problems
  • Study finds fewer adults attempted to quit smoking since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The people most affected were those who are at the highest risk for severe COVID-19 disease and other serious diseases

A recent study led by researchers at the American Cancer Society and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open shows that fewer adults in the US tried to quit smoking since the COVID-19 pandemic began and that these lower rates continued for over  year.

The decline in the number of people who tried to stop smoking was highest for adults who are the most at risk for having severe COVID-19 and include people who self-identify as Black/African American, those with multiple health conditions or diseases, middle-aged individuals, and people with limited education.

Results from this study showed that in the past year, fewer US smokers tried to quit smoking. For the first time since 2011, the percentage of attempts to quit fell from 65.2% in 2019 to 63.2% in 2020. The decline in the number of people who tried to quit smoking started right after the beginning of the pandemic and went all the way through to early spring 2021.

According to the study, tobacco is the number one, preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for up to one-third of all cancer deaths. In addition to causing cancer, smoking can also lead to other serious diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes, which are key risk factors for kidney disease.

Key takeaways:

To quit smoking and reduce your risk factors for serious diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, and heart problems, a combination treatment plan, using both counseling and medication, is often the best way to quit smoking for good. If you smoke, you should:

  • Contact your doctor or healthcare professional for recommendations about a nearby program that may be good for you – many are available free of charge or may be covered by your health insurance plan.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a number of programs, which are available in both English and Spanish, to help people quit smoking, including free:

The North American Quitline Consortium offers telephone and online support (information, counseling, and medication to people who want to quit using tobacco products) and serves the US, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Canada. Visit them to see information about state- and province-run programs to help you quit smoking.

Evusheld prevents serious Covid-19 symptoms and death in immunocompromised adults

  • Study finds one dose of Evusheld is effective at preventing severe illness or death from COVID-19 in immunocompromised people.

  • Evusheld blood concentration levels remained high for 6 months after treatment.

  • More than 3 out of 4 study participants had existing medical conditions, including chronic kidney disease and being on immunosuppressive therapy, which placed them at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Evusheld (tixagevimab and cilgavimab), an injectable, preventive, monoclonal-antibody medication (not a vaccine) reduced the risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms by 77% at 3 months and by 83% at 6 months, compared to placebo. In addition, at 6 months after treatment, no cases of severe disease or COVID-19-related deaths were reported in the Evusheld group.

A total of 5197 people participated in the study with 3460 people in the Evusheld treatment group and 1737 receiving placebo. The study participants were contacted every week to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. The study also found that Evusheld concentrations remained elevated in the blood for six months after administration, suggesting that a single dose could provide long-term protection in immunocompromised people against COVID-19, lasting for at least six months. 

Key takeaways:

Vaccination against severe COVID-19 infection has shown to be effective in many people. However, the vaccines may offer only slight protection in immunocompromised people. In addition, there are others who are unable to receive COVID-19 vaccines. If you fall into one of these groups, your best approach to protect yourself from COVID-19 includes:

  • Check with your doctor to see if Evusheld is an appropriate prevention option for you.

  • Go to the Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response (ASPR) Therapeutic Distribution Locator to find a location near you that can provide Evusheld.

  • Continue to practice good prevention habits, including wearing N95 masks when in public, social distancing, and COVID testing after a known exposure to someone with the virus or if you are feeling ill.

  • Contact your doctor if you have a known exposure to someone who has COVID-19.

  • Contact your doctor if you test positive for COVID-19 and taking any medications for COVID-19 that your doctor may recommend.

High blood pressure may double the risk of severe COVID, even in people who are fully vaccinated

  • Recent study finds people with high blood pressure were more than 2.5 times more likely than those who did not have high blood pressure to require hospitalization for severe COVID-19 illness.
  • High blood pressure seems to be a greater risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms when compared with other chronic health conditions, including kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart failure.

According to an article published in Hypertension (an American Heart Association journal), having high blood pressure more than doubles the risk for hospitalization from an Omicron-variant COVID-19 infection – even in people who are fully vaccinated and who have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The study analyzed the records of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles between December 2021 and April 2022.

COVID-19 vaccines helped reduce death and some of the most severe side effects from infection early in the pandemic, in particular when the Delta variant was the primary circulating variant. COVID-19 vaccine booster doses further reduced the risk of severe illness by up to 70%. Then we began to see some fully vaccinated and boosted people needing to be admitted to the hospital for severe COVID-19 symptoms during early surges of the Omicron variant at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Omicron variant was first detected in the United States in December 2021 and continues to be the dominant variant. As of July 2022, seven Omicron subvariants have been identified.

This study looked at 912 adults who had received at least 3 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) and were treated for COVID-19 during an Omicron surge, between December 2021 and April 2022, in the greater Los Angeles area. Demographic information, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, and clinical data from electronic health records, were also examined. Scientists identified and analyzed a number of other factors including chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure, and prior chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) or asthma.

The researchers found:

  • Of the 912 adults who received three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, nearly 16% required hospitalization.
  • Older age, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure, and the time between the last vaccination and COVID-19 infection were all associated with a greater need for hospitalization.
  • People with high blood pressure were 2.6 times more likely to require hospital care for severe COVID-19 illness, even when the patient had no other serious chronic health condition
  • Of the 145 patients hospitalized, 125 of them (86.2%) had high blood pressure

Key takeaways:

Many people with kidney disease also have high blood pressure. Even if you do not currently have kidney disease, you are at high risk for developing kidney disease if you have high blood pressure. In fact, approximately 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure may already have chronic kidney disease – and many may not even know it. If you have high blood pressure, you should:

  • Contact your doctor to take steps to manage your high blood pressure through diet and exercise or with medication.
  • Stay up-to-date with all your recommended vaccinations, including COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
  • Continue to practice good prevention habits, including wearing N95 masks when in public, social distancing, and COVID testing after a known exposure to someone with the virus or if you are feeling ill.
  • Contact your doctor if you have a known exposure to someone who has COVID-19
  • Contact your doctor if you test positive for COVID-19 and take any medications for COVID-19 that your doctor may recommend

Smoking, vaping linked to higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications, including death

  • People who smoke or vape were 45% more likely to die and 39% more likely to receive mechanical ventilation when compared with those who did not smoke or vape.
  • Although the excessive risk due to smoking was independent of medical history and medication use, smoking was a stronger risk factor for adults between the ages of 18 and 59 years.

People who said they had smoked or vaped prior to their hospitalization for COVID-19 were more likely than other people who did not smoke or vape to experience severe complications, including death, from COVID-19 infection. The findings are from a recent study based on data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 CVD Registry and published in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science.

Researchers looked at records from adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in 107 US hospitals between January 2020 to March 2021. Smoking status was self-reported and people were classified as smokers if they reported currently using either traditional, combustible cigarettes or e-cigarette products. The analysis reviewed records for a total of 4,086 people, comparing 1,362 people who smoked or vaped to 2,724 people who did not smoke or vape. There was no statistically significant difference in age, sex, race, medical history, or medication between the two groups.

The study found that people who smoke or vape tend to have a higher risk of developing health conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure, which are also known risk factors for serious diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart problems that could lead to severe COVID-19 illness and death.

Key takeaways:

Smoking is a risk factor that can lead to serious diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart problems. If you smoke or vape you should:

  • Contact your doctor and look into ways that you quit
  • More to come (smoking cessation programs, websites, numbers)
  • Continue to practice good prevention habits, including wearing N95 masks when in public, social distancing, and COVID testing after a known exposure to someone with the virus or if you are feeling ill.

FDA grants Paxlovid Emergency Use Authorization with certain limitations of use

  • Paxlovid is an oral antiviral drug that must be taken within 5 days after COVID-19 symptoms begin

  • Paxlovid is NOT authorized to treat patients who are:

    • Hospitalized due to severe or critical COVID-19

    • Seeking either pre-exposure or post-exposure prevention of COVID-19

    • On treatment with Paxlovid for more than 5 consecutive days

  • Currently, Paxlovid is not FDA-approved to prevent or treat any diseases or conditions, including COVID-19 – it is an investigational drug that has received FDA Emergency Use Authorization

  • Paxlovid is not recommended for patients with an eGFR of 30 or less

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently revised the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir). Paxlovid has received an EUA for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years of age and older who weigh approximately 88 pounds or more. Eligible patients include those who test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of severe illness, including hospitalization or death. Paxlovid must be taken within five days after COVID-19 symptoms begin. On July 6, 2022, the FDA announced the authorization of state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible patients to expand access to those who have recently become ill with COVID-19.

Key takeaways:

If you test positive for COVID-19, check with your doctor to see if you may be eligible for treatment with Paxlovid. People who take a home test and are positive for COVID-19 should do the following to check if treatment with Paxlovid may be appropriate for you.

  • Contact your doctor if you test positive for COVID-19 and take any medications for COVID-19 that your doctor may recommend
  • If your regular healthcare professional is not available, locate a local Test-to-Treat site, which allows state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid
  • A call center is also available at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8:00 am to midnight ET, 7 days a week
  • The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm ET or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org
  • Certain medical conditions and/or medications can have serious interactions with Paxlovid, so when you visit a pharmacy be sure to bring:
    • Electronic or printed health records that are less than a year old
    • A list of any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you are taking
  • Paxlovid is not recommended for patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of 30 or less
  • People with an eGFR that is between 30 and 60 should be treated with a lower dose
  • People with an eGFR over 60 do not need any dosing changes

Immunocompromised people face a higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19

  • Study finds a link between people who are immunocompromised and their increased risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death from COVID-19 infection.

  • 22,345 vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in 10 states participated in the study.

  • 3,391 study participants had kidney disease, 353 had received a solid organ transplant, and 610 were taking steroids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on July 8, 2022, which shows that vaccinated and unvaccinated immunocompromised patients accounted for 12.2% of all adult COVID-19 hospitalizations in 10 states.* The study also found that immunocompromised patients have a greater likelihood of both being admitted to the ICU and death due to COVID-19 infection than those who are not immunocompromised.

* States include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and  Tennessee.

Key takeaways:

Immunocompromised people are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection and illness and should continue to try to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Recommended approaches include:

  • Wearing an N95 mask and social distancing when indoors with people who do not live in your household

  • Being up to date on all COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters

  • Contacting your doctor if you have a known exposure to someone who has COVID-19

  • Contacting your doctor if you test positive for COVID-19 and taking any medications for COVID-19 that your doctor may recommend

Omicron subvariants are surging in the US

  • BA.4 and BA.5 – subvariants of the Omicron variant – now make up 80% of COVID-19 cases in the US with BA.5 accounting for most of the cases

  • These omicron variants appear to spread more easily than other variants

  • Early reports suggest that the BA.5 subvariant may be more likely to escape immunity from prior COVID-19 infections, as well as COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

  • COVID-19 vaccines and boosters also provide less immune protection from the BA.5 subvariant, especially since fewer people are up to date on their vaccinations and boosters, leading to waning immunity

More than 222 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, over 106 million people have at least their first booster shot, and just about everyone living in the US is eligible for vaccination. In addition, there are now more lifesaving treatments that are readily available, as well as low-cost and free government-provided at-home tests, and high-quality N-95 masks. Based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) data, adults who are up to date with their vaccinations are 3.5 times less likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated adults who are 50 years of age and older. People who have received two booster shots are 42 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who are unvaccinated. Vaccines are free and easy to get at 90,000 convenient locations nationwide. The guidance is clear that every American, age 5 and over, should receive a booster five months after their primary series, and people age 50 and older or those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a second booster shot at least four months after their first.

Key takeaways:

As Omicron subvariant BA.5 cases continue to rise, the US government will continue to provide support to people who are immunocompromised.

  • Continue to practice good prevention habits, including wearing N95 masks when in public, social distancing, and COVID testing after a known exposure to someone with the virus or if you are feeling ill.

  • Make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccines

  • Contact your doctor if you test positive for COVID-19 or locate a local Test-to-Treat site

  • A call center is also available at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8:00 am to midnight ET, 7 days a week

  • The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm ET or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org

  • Certain medical conditions and/or medications can have serious interactions with antiviral treatments, so when you visit a pharmacy be sure to bring:

    • Electronic or printed health records that are less than a year old

    • A list of any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you are taking

What if I feel sick?

If you feel sick, follow these steps:

  • Stay home except to get medical care (including dialysis treatments)
  • Do not go to work or school
  • Contact and follow the advice of your healthcare provider
  • Separate yourself from other people
  • Watch your symptoms

If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms you might have COVID-19. Other COVID-19 symptoms may include chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. Emergency warning signs include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.

You can find more information about what to do if you feel sick on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Should I get antibody testing for COVID-19?

You can ask your healthcare team, or check with local/state health departments, to help decide if you should receive an antibody test and if it can be done safely for people with kidney disease.

Serological tests detect antibodies in the blood when the body is responding to a specific infection, such as COVID-19. They are also known as antibody tests. These antibodies are produced when someone has been infected, so a positive result from this test indicates that person was previously infected with the virus.

Antibody tests can help clinicians and their patients find out if someone was previously infected with COVID-19. The information can help researchers figure out how much the virus has spread in a community and to see if people can donate convalescent plasma, which might help others sickened by COVID-19. However, research is ongoing to see if antibodies from a CVOID-19 infection can protect someone from reinfection and if this protection lasts.

Also, these tests can have limitations. For example, specificity (doesn’t detect non-target viruses) and sensitivity (true positive rate, meaning antibodies exist) of antibody tests may vary. The CDC is evaluating the performance of antibody tests in collaboration with the FDA and other federal organizations.

CDC page for more information

FDA page for more information

State and Territorial Health Departments

Local Health Departments

What is herd immunity?

The CDC defines herd immunity as “protection from disease in a group, due to a large enough proportion of the population having immunity to prevent the disease from spreading from person to person.”

The idea is that if a large enough portion of a population is immune to a certain infection (either through recovery or vaccination) then transmission would slow and serve as a barrier for others without immunity.

However, a very large portion of the population would need to be immune to an infectious disease, such as COVID-19. People who have recovered from an infection may be protected from reinfection for a time, based on what is known about other viruses (research is ongoing). However, many, many more people would need to be infected for this to possibly work, which would mean many more people would get sick and possibly die. This is why general recommendations and strategies have focused on social distancing (such as maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others).

What does it mean to build up immunity?

The immune system is the body's defense against infections. Part of this defense involves making antibodies to help keep the body protected from future infections. An antibody is made to protect against a certain virus or other germ.

It’s possible to build up protection or immunity by antibodies produced from an infection, such as with COVID-19, based on what is known about other viruses. However, this is a new virus and research is ongoing to see if antibodies from a COVID-19 infection can protect someone from reinfection and if this protection lasts.

What should I consider if I’m on dialysis?

First and foremost, you should know that you are still at increased risk for infection and for worse complications if you catch COVID-19.

Please keep in close contact with your dialysis center for any further recommendations or instructions.

Visit the CDC for more information.

What should I consider if I am planning or have undergone kidney transplant?

People who plan to or have already had a kidney transplant are at increased risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 and preventing your exposure to the virus is the best approach.

Please keep in close contact with your transplant center for any further recommendations or instructions

Visit the CDC for more information.

Are young transplant recipients at increased risk from COVID-19?

Since the start of the pandemic, most of the children admitted to pediatric intensive care units with severe COVID-19 symptoms have underlying conditions, such as kidney transplant recipients who are immunosuppressant medication.

Also concerning, a growing number of children have been identified who appear to have a different response to COVID-19, which doctors have called Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome. The symptoms of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome include a persistent fever, rash, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Young patients can also suffer from cardiac inflammation.

What can parents of young transplant recipients do?

The best way to keep children on immunosuppressant treatment well is to prevent their exposure to the virus. Continue to practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and infecting your child and

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if you’re unable to wash your hands (eg, using a gas pump)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (eg, tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles)

Contact your child’s transplant center for more information.

Am I eligible for disability benefits if I can’t work?

It is possible that you are eligible for disability benefits if you can't work due to COVID-19. Your social worker can give you information about financial programs, what the qualifications are, and how to apply.

The federal government runs 2 of the best-known programs.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program of the Social Security Administration (SSA). It pays a monthly cash benefit to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another SSA program. Benefits are calculated based on an individual’s financial needs, not the amount of tax that they paid. SSI pays its benefits monthly. This amount may be supplemented by state or local benefits.

What are my rights as a kidney patient if my employer wants me to return to work?

There are laws to protect people with chronic conditions and illnesses from discrimination in the workplace. Your legal rights may be protected by one of the following federal acts.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

If you work for a company with 15 or more employees, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires your employer to make any “reasonable accommodations” that you might need in order to perform your work duties.

Examples include:

  • Making parking lots, bathrooms, and work areas handicapped accessible
  • Allowing you to work from home if possible, in your current role
  • Having flexible work schedules (to schedule around dialysis treatments for example)
  • Designating a sterile area to exchange cleansing fluid bags for PD
  • Reassigning you to a less strenuous job if you request one and one is available
  • Assigning any of your non-essential tasks to other employees, at your request

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles complaints under the ADA.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

If you work at least 20 weeks of the year for an employer with 50 or more employees, you may qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows for 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for medical reasons.

If you had group health insurance coverage before taking leave, it will continue under the same terms or conditions.

Your employer can ask for medical certification stating that you have a serious illness but cannot punish you for taking leave to have surgery or begin treatment. Your spouse, children, or parents may also be eligible for FMLA leave if you need them to provide you with care or transportation.

The Department of Labor (DOL) handles complaints under FMLA.

Sign up to receive COVID-19 emails