Precautions for Transplant Patients

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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Everyone

Find answers to common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 Information for Transplant Recipients

Update 8/18: The FDA and CDC have authorized providing a third dose of the Pfizer (12 and up) or Moderna (18 and up) COVID-19 vaccines for people whose immune systems are compromised moderately or severely, including those that have received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

If you are eligible for a third dose you can schedule your appointment for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine using this online form. No provider note or other proof of eligibility is required. 

Please Note: You need to wait a minimum of 28 days after your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before receiving the third dose. If you are a recent transplant recipient, you should wait two months (60 days) after your transplant date to get your third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. If you are actively being treated for rejection, we advise that you wait until treatment is complete before you receive your third dose.

At this time, patients who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not eligible for an additional dose.

Review the other populations who may receive a third dose. Additional doses or booster shots are not recommended for any other population at this time.  

These are the most current recommendations available and are endorsed by your UW Health Transplant Center providers. We ask that you read this content and refrain from calling with COVID-19 specific questions, unless otherwise instructed, so we may focus on patient care. Any new information and updates related to COVID-19 will be added to this page.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

  • We encourage all transplant recipients who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated.
  • Patients should be at least two months post-transplantation and not actively being treated for rejection.
  • Patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and recovered should follow CDC guidance on timing of vaccination following infection. Note that timing may depend on if the patient received treatment for COVID-19.
  • Additional considerations (please discuss with your healthcare team):
    • If you have received treatment for COVID-19
    • If you have a contraindication to the vaccine
  • As long as no standard contraindication exists, we recommend people who live with transplant recipients or those who frequently visit a transplant recipient receive the vaccine if eligible.
  • Due to immunosuppression, transplant recipients may not receive as much protection from the vaccine.
  • It is important that transplant recipients continue to follow safety precautions (wear a mask, physical distance, wash hands frequently) even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Antibody testing for transplant patients who had COVID 19 or a vaccination is not recommended per the FDA and transplant professional societies.

To better understand the reasons for these recommendations, please review this information:

Protecting Yourself From COVID-19

Talk of a “return to normal” raises many questions for transplant recipients. Even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, transplant recipients should:

  • Avoid unnecessary exposures. If you learn you were exposed to someone who tested positive, get tested 3-4 days following exposure, monitor for symptoms and contact your coordinator.
  • If you do go out, wear a mask, physical distance and wash your hands frequently. 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.
  • Get your lab work done as scheduled. Follow prevention guidelines to protect yourself while at the lab.
  • For pediatric transplant patients
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics provides resources for safe schools.
    • This information (pdf), from pediatric infectious disease experts, can help families with pediatric transplant recipients make decisions about school attendance.
  • Have a plan if you get sick
    • Create your plan with your loved ones
    • Create an emergency contact list, and include your coordinator’s contact information
    • Determine who can provide you with care
    • Identify aid organizations in your community
    • Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You might need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc.

Information for Transplant Patients Who Have Symptoms or are Infected with COVID-19

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. In transplant patients, emergency warning signs include:

  • Fever
  • 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
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Notify your transplant coordinator and primary care doctor.
  • Monitor how you feel. Use this guide (pdf) to track your symptoms.
  • If you have an upcoming appointment, contact your coordinator via phone or MyChart before visiting in person.

Information for Patients Awaiting Transplant

  • We are performing transplant using organs gifted by deceased and living donors.
  • We are testing all donors for COVID-19.
  • Patients awaiting transplant should get vaccinated as long as they do not have contraindications and notify their coordinator as soon as they are vaccinated. The two-dose vaccine timeline may determine timing of transplant but will be decided on an individual basis.
  • Patients are tested for COVID-19 before going to surgery. We will not transplant patients with an active COVID-19 infection.
  • We have visitor restrictions to decrease the potential for exposure.
  • Patients who test positive for COVID-19 should contact their coordinator to discuss when it is safe to have a transplant.
  • We ask that anyone who will have direct contact with a transplant patient be tested, avoid exposure by following CDC guidance and get vaccinated.
  • Anyone who tests positive should not be with a transplant patient until they are fully recovered and have completed their quarantine per CDC guidance.
  • If you learn you were exposed to someone who tested positive, get tested 3-4 days following exposure, monitor for symptoms and contact your coordinator.
  • Prior to your appointments, please read the Before you Arrive section below.

UW Health Transplant Program Services Update

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 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
  • 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

Insurance Changes

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:
(608) 821-1555

Before 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.