The well-being and safety of our transplant patients is always our top priority. Information related to COVID-19 is constantly changing. Please continue to check this site for the latest updates and information. Transplant-specific information will be updated here.
Send a message to your clinic using MyChart. Log in to your UW Health MyChart account
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and I am waiting to receive my second dose. Who needs this information?
If you are awaiting transplant and received your first COVID 19 vaccine, please notify your transplant team.
FAQ: COVID-19 Vaccine Information Specific to Transplant Patients
Is it safe for transplant recipients to get vaccinated for COVID-19?
The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are as safe as other vaccines that our transplant recipients receive. We recommend COVID-19 vaccination for transplant patients. The risks associated with getting this vaccine are minimal and are outweighed by the risk of severe illness should you not receive the vaccine and become infected with COVID-19. We do not recommend receiving a live-virus vaccine, however both of the currently available vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) do not contain live virus.
Should I get vaccinated?
At this time, when it is your turn to be vaccinated, we recommend you get vaccinated.
How soon after my transplant should I get vaccinated?
You should wait 60 days from your transplant date before getting the vaccine. If you are being treated for rejection, you should wait until you complete this treatment before getting the vaccine.
You can help other transplant recipients by enrolling in this study:
A team at Johns Hopkins initiated a study focusing on transplant recipients who get the vaccine. If you intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine you are invited to enroll in this national observational study looking at antibody development and durability after vaccination. Results from this study will provide important guidance to transplant recipients, many of whom are currently reluctant to get the vaccine given its novelty. The study requires you to do a small, painless blood sampling at home, before and after vaccination. You will also complete several short surveys (vaccine side effects, impact of allergies). Enroll at transplantvaccine.org. Early reports will be available in February-March 2021, followed by more extensive information planned for publication throughout 2021.
FAQ: COVID-19 Concerns for Patients in Need of Transplant
Find answers to common questions Transplant patients may have regarding COVID-19: COVID-19 FAQs
FAQ: COVID-19 Concerns for Transplant Recipients
There is a lot of information out there, it can be hard to know what to do. Find information like – how to prepare for the flu season and more: FAQ: COVID-19 Concerns for Transplant Recipients
Transplant Patient Symptom Tracker
If you are a transplant patient and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, notify your transplant coordinator and primary care doctor. It is also important that you monitor how you feel. You can use this guide (pdf) to track your symptoms.
UW Health Transplant Program
We are monitoring COVID-19 data and adjusting our services as necessary to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff.
- We are contacting patients regarding their scheduled appointments and to schedule new appointments. Patients should read and follow the Before You Arrive section information, below.
- We are performing deceased donor transplants.
- We are performing living donor transplants on select patients based on urgency of need and associated risks.
- All donors are being screened and tested for COVID-19. We are not accepting organs from donors who test positive for COVID-19.
- Recipients who are called in for transplant will be screened and tested for COVID-19. We are not performing transplants on patients who test positive for COVID-19.
- To protect the health of our newly transplanted patients as they leave the hospital, we ask that anyone who will be in direct contact with a transplant patient be tested for COVID-19 and avoid exposure by following CDC guidance to the extent possible. Anyone who tests positive should not be with transplant patients until they are fully recovered and have completed their quarantine per CDC guidance.
- Patients can be referred following the usual referral process.
- We are using virtual visit options and clinic visits to evaluate patients and maintain their care. Learn more about Getting Your Care Safely at UW Health During the COVID-19 Response
- We are serving living donors. Potential living donors may consider remote options for portions of the evaluation process. Lab work can happen locally. As the evaluation progresses, we will schedule a visit at University Hospital for more tests and a physical exam with a physician. Donors who prefer to delay the evaluation process can discuss future dates. We recognize that living donation is a very personal choice. We want to answer questions and support donors while they make this decision. We will also support their choice.
- Patients can anticipate a delay on follow-up to questions that are not of an urgent nature, including prescription related issues.
- Patients who rely on NSAIDs to treat chronic diseases should not stop taking them without talking to their provider. Read more
Contact us if you’re experiencing health insurance coverage changes. This is especially important for patients on the wait list. If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting your ability to receive your transplant medications or care, please contact us for assistance.
Email or phone a transplant financial counselor:
Before You Arrive at UW Health
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. In transplant patients, emergency warning signs include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
- Chest wall pain
This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
When You Arrive
We are screening all patients, visitors and staff for symptoms, your temperature will be taken with a no-touch thermometer and you will be required to wear a face covering in our facilities. If you do not have a face covering, we will give one to you.
Guidelines on Visitors
Please refer to our Patients and Visitors Guidelines page for the latest information.
Prepare for Your Needs at Home
- Face coverings (masks) highly recommended for all transplant patients. Recent studies have shown that many individuals with COVID-19 can transmit the virus without showing any symptoms through speaking, coughing or sneezing. We are also learning that transplant recipients are struggling more than others to recover from COVID-19. Wearing a face covering that completely covers both the nose and mouth while in essential public settings (grocery store, pharmacy) is highly recommended for all transplant recipients. If you have surgical masks, note that they do not closely cover the nose and mouth. Cloth masks fit better and can provide a layer of protection. For more information on the use of masks and how to prevent illness, please see the CDC guidelines. The most critical step to stopping the spread of the virus is still physical distancing.
- Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
- Maintain your usual 30-day supply, unless your refills are already prescribed otherwise. A 30-day supply allows all patients to have their required medications.
- If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail order for medications.
- Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people that do contract COVID-19 can quarantine and recover at home.
Practice Physical Distancing and Limit Your Exposure to Others
- Transplant recipients are considered at higher risk of getting infected and having more severe symptoms from COVID-19. Based on recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Society of Transplant (AST) we recommend recipients and their direct household members be considered for alternative work options that support physical distancing.
- Stay home.
- If you must be in a public place, stay six feet away from others.
- Find ways of getting food and supplies dropped off at your house through family, social or commercial networks.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after all deliveries.
Have Plans for Contacting Your Provider and Support Network
- Have a plan if you get sick. Talk to your loved ones about your plan, create an emergency contact list and identify aid organizations in your community.
- Consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
- Determine who can provide you with care.
Protection Against Respiratory Illnesses
Transplant patients are among those at high risk of serious illness from an infection because their immune systems are suppressed. Patients and their caregivers need to take precautions to lower their risk of getting COVID-19. The CDC has specific recommendations for people at risk for serious illness, including COVID-19 infection.
Protect yourself from respiratory infections by:
- Refraining from touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using hand sanitizing gel.
- Engaging in physical distancing – try to keep a physical distance from others.
- Avoiding crowded areas, large gatherings and sick people.
- Transplant patients are advised to wear a mask if they are permitted to come to a clinic or hospital.
For more information on COVID-19 and transplantation, visit The American Transplant Society on Coronavirus
Returning to School for Children With a Solid Organ Transplant
COVID-19 has created many questions about returning to school for pediatric solid organ transplant recipients and their families. While the risk of getting COVID-19 in school will never be zero when COVID-19 cases are present in a community, a team of pediatric transplant infectious diseases experts are providing this information to help families make decisions with their transplant teams about school attendance for their child who has received a solid organ (liver, lung, kidney, heart, or pancreas) transplant. Read more