University of Wisconsin Health to Require COVID Vaccine for Transplants


The University of Wisconsin (UW) Health is now requiring that candidates for transplants must be vaccinated against COVID. Wisc News reported that the rule “requires patients on the transplant waiting list to get a first dose of vaccine by Dec. 15 and a second dose, if needed, by Jan. 14.”

People who are not yet on the waiting list must be vaccinated before being added to the list, UW Health said.

According to a statement from UW Health, “Patients on the waitlist will be changed to an ‘inactive status’ on Jan. 14, 2022, if documentation of vaccination is not received. While inactive, patients will not receive organ offers and will not be candidates to proceed to living donor transplant, even if a living donor has been identified.”

“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,” said Dr. Dixon Kaufman, the medical director of the UW Health Transplant Center. “It is unfortunate that transplant recipients — because of the anti-rejection drugs they need — are put at far greater risk than others for severe illness or death from COVID. We believe that requiring vaccination for COVID, just as vaccinations are required for other infectious diseases, gives our recipients the best odds for surviving and thriving once they receive their transplant.”

The UW press release explained that requiring certain vaccinations for a “wide spectrum of diseases” pre and post transplant procedures are a routine event. The school wrote, “The medications required for successful transplantation diminish antibody responses (compared to the general population) to vaccinations, and COVID is no exception.” They cite a higher hospitalization and death rate from COVID for transplant patients, explaining that in a study of 482 patients, “78% had to be hospitalized. Of those who needed to be hospitalized, 20.5% died.”

UW Health will also be “encouraging” transplant recipients to obtain COVID booster shots but “wait-listing or transplant will not be delayed as long as the initial vaccine series is completed.” The school also recommends that those who are caregivers to transplant patients be fully vaccinated against COVID.

According to UW Health, “Vaccine requirements for transplant candidates was recently endorsed by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), the nation’s largest organization committed to advancing the art and science of transplant surgery through patient care, research, education and advocacy.”

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Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].




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