Emory Transplant Center recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges and concerns this past year to our transplant patients. There is now excitement about the two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for emergency use. We know you have many questions, so we would like to provide our transplant patients with information regarding the vaccines and vaccination.
Emory Transplant Center recommends that our patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you.
Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine and the Transplant Patient
- Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA is not the same as full FDA approval. EUA is a means to facilitate the availability and use of vaccines and other unapproved medications during a public health emergency, such as a pandemic.
- Without a vaccine, there is risk of disease, long-term complications and death. To date, transplant recipients appear to have clinically worse outcomes from COVID-19 when compared to non-transplant patients. This may be due to overall health status or to medications used to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ (being immunosuppressed).
- The recently approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very similar with reported effectiveness of 94-95 percent. Both vaccines are mRNA-based and are not live viruses. However, the safety and effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines are still under investigation in solid organ transplant recipients, who were not included in the early studies. Based on previous vaccination guidelines for transplant patients, our doctors think the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and will offer benefit to our immunosuppressed transplant recipients.
- Some future vaccines, which are not yet approved for use, may be weakened or attenuated live viruses. You should avoid these. We are currently advising use of only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. If you are unsure, contact your transplant team for guidance.
- Lastly, heart transplant patients should check in with their heart transplant team PRIOR to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
- It is recommended that transplant antibody levels are checked before the first dose and one month after each dose is received.
- Vaccination is discouraged for organ recipients within the first three months of transplant or for those who have ongoing issues with rejection, but will be reviewed upon request.
- If you have recently received other vaccines (influenza, shingles, etc.), you should wait one month before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 Vaccination Expansion to Phase 1A+
The Georgia Department of Public Health (GaDPH) has expanded the COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to Phase 1A+ (those age 65 and older). See the below chart for a listing of who is eligible in the 1A+ grouping or visit the GaDPH website.
Emory Healthcare is offering vaccination appointments to existing Emory Healthcare patients age 65 and older. All COVID-19 vaccinations are by appointment only. Emory Healthcare patients who are age 65 and older can request a vaccination appointment via a web form posted on the Emory Healthcare website at emoryhealthcare.org/covidvaccine. Completing this form will place you on our waitlist, which Emory Healthcare will work through in a first-come, first-served process. When appointment time slots become available based on vaccine supply, patients will be contacted with instructions on how to make their appointment.
Please note, due to the high demand for the vaccine, it may take time (days or weeks, depending on vaccine supply) before we can contact you. The second vaccine dose will be scheduled after administration of the first dose. Individual physician offices will not have the vaccine and will not be able to schedule vaccinations.
You may also locate a local health department near you to schedule a vaccination at the GaDPH website.
In the meantime, please continue to follow best practices: Minimize going out in public, wear a mask when out of the house, and clean your hands frequently with sanitizer or soap and water.
Emory Healthcare COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
To most efficiently address questions, we are regularly updating the Emory Healthcare website for answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine at Emory Healthcare. Please visit the site before calling us.
About Emory Transplant Center
Emory Transplant Center is a leader in clinical excellence and in pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in heart transplant, kidney transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant surgery, and pancreas transplant surgery.
Our patients come from all over the nation for our high level of expertise and proven patient outcomes. We are proud to be ranked among the top 15 transplant programs in the nation and have performed more than 10,000 transplants to date.