COVID-19 Q&A: Transplant
What vaccines are currently available?
Currently there are three vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. The vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. There is no virus in the vaccine. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine. They contain a code that tells cells to make parts of the COVID-19 virus. Your body reacts to this part of the virus. The mRNA code does NOT stay around.
How safe are these vaccines?
More than 70,000 people are in clinical trials with mRNA vaccines. The vaccine caused no severe problems in the first two months. mRNA vaccines can cause pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some people also had fevers, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, and headaches for one to two days. Side effects and reactions were more common after the second dose. They are a good sign that the vaccine is working! Based on what we know so far, we do not expect long-term problems.
Are side effects different in transplant patients?
These vaccines were not studied in transplant patients. We do not know if transplant patients who get the vaccine are at a higher risk of rejection or other problems. We think the risk is low.
How is the vaccine given?
The vaccine is given as a shot in the arm. Two doses are needed, 3-4 weeks apart. Both shots are needed for the best results.
How well does the vaccine work?
In healthy people who get both vaccine doses, the vaccine prevents about 95 out of 100 COVID-19 infections. The vaccine works very well in young and old people. We do not know how long the protection lasts.
How well does the vaccine work in transplant patients?
We do not know if the vaccine works as well in transplant patients. Transplant patients can have weaker responses to vaccines because of immunosuppression.
Do NOT stop your medications before, during, or after you get the vaccine.
Will I still have to wear a mask and keep my distance after I get the vaccine?
Yes. If you get the vaccine, you should still wear a mask. We still recommend that you practice social distancing.
Can I get the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?
Yes! And you should – three months after your infection. We do not yet know if transplant patients who had COVID-19 can get it again. Therefore, you should get vaccinated.
Is it okay to get different COVID-19 vaccines?
No. Until we know more, different COVID-19 vaccines should not be given to the same person.
Which vaccine should I get?
Right now, three vaccines are available. Other types of COVID-19 vaccines are in clinical trials. We do not know if other vaccines will be more or less effective, or when they will become available.
Are there any COVID-19 vaccine trials for transplant patients?
Yes. If you are interested, call your transplant coordinator. You DO NOT have to be in a research study to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Should I get vaccinated?
Yes. We encourage transplant recipients to get the COVID-19 vaccine when possible.
When should I get vaccinated?
If you are on the transplant wait list it is better to complete the vaccine series BEFORE your transplant. You should talk about vaccination timing with your transplant team.
If you had a transplant, we recommend waiting at least 1 month after your surgery before getting the vaccine. You should talk about vaccination timing with your transplant team.