Covid Treatments and Autumn 2023 Booster: Everything you need to know
Whilst the initial urgency of the pandemic has waned, Covid-19 still remains a threat, particularly to vulnerable kidney patients. What’s next for the at-risk groups in terms of accessing treatment and booster vaccines?
Treatments for COVID-19
The NHS offers treatment to people with COVID-19 who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill. This includes people with kidney transplants, those on dialysis and anyone with stage 4 or 5 chronic kidney disease. See the full list visit of higher risk patients eligible for COVID-19 treatments.
Anyone that is eligible for treatments should keep a box of lateral flow tests at home to use if they develop symptoms. Free testing is no longer available to the general public, but if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatments, you can still order free lateral flow tests from gov.uk. You can also now use tests you have bought from a pharmacy or shop.
Take a lateral flow test as soon as possible if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
If it’s positive, follow the instructions for your country, or your local area if you live in England. Please also inform your kidney team by telephone so they can help you manage the illness. Do not go to your renal unit or to dialysis, GP, pharmacy or hospital in person until you have spoken with your kidney team.
How to get COVID-19 treatment
The way in which people can access the Covid-19 treatments has changed. Local NHS organisations are responsible for arranging COVID-19 treatments. The way you get treatment may depend on where you live.
If you test positive for COVID-19 after taking a lateral flow test:
- England: You should follow the instructions for your local Integrated Care Board (ICB), the area where you are registered with a GP. You could also get advice by calling 111, your hospital team or your GP.
- Scotland: You’ll need to log your positive test online or by calling 119. You should then report your positive covid result to your Health Board. You can find contact numbers for each Health Board here. You could also get advice by calling 111, your hospital team or your GP.
- Wales: You’ll need to log your positive test online or by calling 119. This should trigger an automatic phone call from your local Health Board within 24 hours to ask about your symptoms and discuss treatment. You can find contact numbers for each Health Board here. You could also get advice by calling your hospital team or your GP.
- Northern Ireland: You’ll need to log your positive test online or by calling 119. This should trigger an automatic phone call from the NHS within 24 hours to ask about your symptoms and discuss the treatment. We'd also advise that you contact 111 or your local Trust to ask about getting the telephone assessment for treatment. You could also get advice by calling your hospital team or your GP.
Whoever you speak to, tell them you are immunosuppressed or in another at risk group, and that you think you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment.
This year’s autumn flu and Covid-19 vaccine programmes will start earlier than planned as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new Covid-19 variant. While it's not known whether this variant causes more serious illness, advice from the UKHSA suggests that speeding up the autumn vaccine programme will deliver greater protection.
The following groups are eligible for the Covid-19 booster vaccine this autumn:
- residents in a care home for older adults
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as defined in tables 3 and 4 of the Covid-19 chapter of the UKHSA Green Book
- frontline health and social care workers
- persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts (as defined in the UKHSA Green Book) of people with immunosuppression
- persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers (as defined in the UKHSA Green Book) and staff working in care homes for older adults
Eligible people should wait to receive an invite from their local provider – these will now be sent out during September. We will publish further information on how household contacts can access a booster as soon as it is available.
- The vaccines have all passed stringent safety tests before being approved. They are not live vaccines and there is no evidence that they would lead to rejection of a kidney transplant.
- People with kidney disease on immunosuppressants may have a weaker response to the vaccines, but kidney doctors recommend that it is still important to have all the available vaccinations. Some protection is better than none.
- Even after having the vaccine, people at highest risk should continue to follow precautionary measures.
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