Coronavirus & Transplant FAQs

Contact Us

As a transplant recipient, donor, or patient waiting for an organ, you may feel scared right now. You and your loved ones may wonder: What does the COVID-19 mean for you?

We’re here for you. Your safety and wellness remains our top priority. If you have concerns, call us. We’ll update this information as needed.

Vaccine Info for Transplant Patients

The CDC says vaccinated people don't need to wear masks anymore. Does that include me?

If you're a transplant patient, and you don't know the vaccination status of the people around you, we recommend that you continue to wear a mask and socially distance. This applies to any crowded, indoor space, like grocery stores, gyms, churches, and schools.

When outdoors, stay socially distanced if you take your mask off.

Tell the people closest to you to get vaccinated. This is one of the best ways to protect you from getting sick with COVID-19.

How long after I get vaccinated am I safe?

You're not considered fully vaccinated until about 2 weeks after the second dose of the vaccine or the one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This may vary for transplant patients.

How effective is the vaccine?

For people of any age who are not immunocompromised, studies show that Moderna and Pfizer (mRNA vaccines) are 94.1-95% effective. in preventing COVID-19 infection. Johnson and Johnson research shows to be 85% effective.

How effective is the vaccine for transplant patients?

Early data shows a “blunted” immune response for transplant patients after getting the vaccine.

This means that a small percent (17%) of transplant patients developed antibodies for COVID-19 after one dose and about 54% 2 weeks after the second dose.

In some cases, people who received that shot, but still got sick, had much milder cases of COVID then people who did not get the shot.

Research on the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the transplant patient is ongoing. The immune system is more than just antibodies. Studies are looking at how other parts of the immune system react to the vaccines and what that means for the transplant population.

Can I be around someone who received the vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine will not cause you to get sick or develop COVID. You should still practice all safety guidelines even after vaccination. We strongly recommend that members of the transplant household get vaccinated.

Can I get the COVID vaccine when it’s time to get another vaccine?

You should get the COVID-19 vaccine series alone. Wait a minimum of 14 days before getting another vaccine. Exceptions may exist. Talk to your provider.

For the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine, see our general vaccine FAQs.

General COVID-19 Transplant FAQs

Are transplant support groups still meeting? How can I get support?

In-person meetings aren't happening, but you can join weekly transplant support groups via phone. Call in and join the conversation. Get your questions answered and hear updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us for details on how to join.

  • Heart & Lung, every Thursday, 12 noon - 1 p.m.
  • Kidney & Liver Transplant, every Friday, 12 noon - 1 p.m.

I'm a transplant recipient. Am I immunocompromised and high risk when it comes to the coronavirus?

Yes. Anti-rejection or immunosuppressant drugs weaken your immune system. This means you face a higher risk of severe disease if you get infected. You should take extra care to reduce your exposure.

For more guidance, read our general COVID-19 FAQs.

I'm on a transplant waitlist. Am I at high risk for severe illness if I get the coronavirus?

Anyone with a current illness or condition faces a higher risk of getting sick if infected. You should reduce your exposure to infection as much as possible.

I'm a transplant recipient. What should I do to protect myself?

A few simple tips can go a long way in preventing infection:

  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Practice social distancing. Stay home as much as possible and put distance (at least 6 feet) between you and other people if you must be out.

I feel sick. What should I do?

If you have these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Call your transplant coordinator.

Is it safe to go to the emergency room if I need to?

Yes. We're screening everyone who enters our facilities. But, if you have coronavirus symptoms, call first.

Has travel been restricted for transplant recipients?

Not officially. But if you're a transplant recipient, you should stay home as much as possible. Avoid travel to places with high amounts of confirmed cases of the virus.

Likewise, your caregivers and household members should delay nonessential travel to high-risk areas. See the latest updates on travel guidelines.

I'm on the transplant waitlist. Will the coronavirus outbreak make the wait longer?

No. We’re still performing transplants as organs become available.

I have a living donor transplant scheduled. Will you delay my surgery?

Our living donor transplant program continues. This could change as the pandemic evolves. Questions? Call 800.543.8814 and ask to speak with the living donor office.

Are you testing donor organs for coronavirus?

Our partner organizations that receive organs are screening all deceased donors. The screening includes medical testing and family interviews.

Learn more about organ donation and COVID-19.

Can I get the coronavirus from a donated organ?

We don't know the risk of catching COVID-19 from organ donation. If you receive an organ offer, the on-call coordinator can answer any of your questions.

Will you screen or test me for coronavirus before transplant surgery?

All recipients get tested for COVID-19 before surgery.

What is UVA doing to protect all patients?

We've taken several steps to protect our patients, team members, and the community. These changes affect visits, entrances, and appointments. See how we're keeping you safe.

Which resources can I trust for more information?

Stay up-to-date with our general COVID-19 FAQs.

We also recommend: