UW Health will require that all organ transplant patients be fully vaccinated, effective on Monday, Nov. 15.
According to their website on transplant guidelines, COVID-19 was the number one cause of death for transplant patients between Jan. 1, 2020 and Oct. 18, 2021. Those active on the list to receive an organ transplant will be given 30 days to receive and send proof of their first vaccine shot. They will be given another 30 days to get their second dose.
“This new policy reflects our commitment to patient safety and our respect for the donors and families who’ve made the selfless decision to give others the gift of life,” medical director of the UW Health Transplant Center Dr. Dixon Kaufman said. “We believe that requiring vaccination for COVID-19… gives our recipients the best odds for surviving ... once they receive their transplant.”
Studies highlight that organ transplant recipients are at higher risk of fatal complications caused by COVID-19. One study noted that transplant patients should be a priority for COVID-19 immunization because they are at risk for developing more serious complications associated with the disease. Another study conducted by the American Journal of Transplantation found that 35% of the 68 hospitalized patients in the study required intubation and 18% of those hospitalized died.
While COVID-19 vaccinations are not mandated for organ donors, UW Health tests all donors for COVID-19 before their donation.
Those that do not follow the vaccine requirements will be listed as “inactive” and unable to receive organ transplant offers or be eligible for a transplant from a living donor.