After having the COVID-19 vaccine, Ola Miller, a dialysis patient of 16 years, said she feels protected and secure.

Miller said she took the vaccination because she felt it was necessary.

“Even if I wasn’t on dialysis, I still would have taken it,” she said. “To know that I have the shot, I feel a little protected and feel good.”

Miller is one of the dialysis patients in Tyler who received their COVID-19 vaccination during a visit to a DaVita Kidney Care center in Tyler.

She comes for dialysis treatment three days a week for 3 hours and 45 minutes each session.

“It’s (dialysis) something that I don’t want to do,” she said. “I have to do it. Now, that it’s been 16 years. It’s something I don’t like to do, but I go do it.”

Miller added that she recommends people take the vaccine.

“I have two sons that haven’t taken it and my advice to them would be to get the shot,” she said. “I can’t make them because they’re grown men. I just feel like you need it. It’s a life-threatening thing.”

Amy Fox, facility administrator at DaVita Kidney Care’s Renal Center of Tyler and Renal Center of Waterton in Tyler, said by having the vaccine at the centers the patients can be vaccinated while receiving their dialysis treatment.

“It’s been interesting and we’re really glad that we’re able to bring in the vaccine for our patients,” Fox said. “They’re not able to go out in the community and get vaccinated. We’re definitely excited to have the opportunity to bring this to them. We vaccinate while they’re on the machine.”

Fox noted a lot of the 700 dialysis patients the centers serve have comorbidities (heart issues, diabetes and other issues), causing them to be immunocompromised and become more susceptible to COVID-19 symptoms.

“They have to come in three times a week. For 15 hours a week we’re with these folks doing what their kidneys can’t,” Fox said. “When you throw something like COVID on board, it does increase their risk of unfavorable outcomes.”

She added vaccination rates among their patients have been high, and the staff is working to educate patients on the virus and safety measures for their protection.

“Dialysis patients don’t come in contact with it more than the average person,” she said. “They’re at risk out in the community just like we are. It’s their issues after (contracting COVID-19) that we’re concerned about.”

Fox said the centers, located at 510 SSW Loop 323 Suite 580 and 2895 Shiloh Road in Tyler, are vaccinating dialysis patients of any age in Tyler. She added if the resources are available, family members of the patients could be vaccinated as well.

“It’s about the whole community and trying to reduce the spread of this,” Fox said. “They know and they trust our teams and that helps with their hesitancy.”

Miller said she hopes people will be more observant and aware regarding COVID-19.

“I like to listen to the news and get information on it and then I go on my iPad and research,” Miller said. “This is a worldwide thing that no one really knows anything about so we have to research and listen.”


Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.