Hospital system requiring vaccinations for transplant recipients in 'almost all situations'

Hospital system requiring vaccinations for transplant recipients in 'almost all situations'
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A Colorado hospital system says COVID-19 vaccinations will now be required in "almost all situations" for transplant recipients and living donors. 

“In almost all situations, transplant recipients and living donors at UCHealth are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to meeting other health requirements and receiving additional vaccinations,” UCHealth said in a statement to The Hill.

The hospital system, based in Aurora, Colo., said that some transplant centers "already have this requirement in place, and others are making this change in policy now." 

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The hospital further noted that patients who receive a transplanted organ are at "significant risk for COVID-19," noting that studies have placed the mortality rate for transplant patients who contract the virus at between 18 and 32 percent. 

The current mortality rate for everyone who has tested positive is at 1.6 percent. 

"This is why it is essential that both the recipient and the living donor be vaccinated and take other precautions prior to undergoing transplant surgery," the statement said. "Surgeries may be postponed until patients take all required precautions in order to give them the best chance at positive outcomes." 

The policy garnered attention on Tuesday after Colorado state Rep. Tim Geitner (R) said that UCHealth denied a woman a kidney transplant because she was not vaccinated, according to The Washington Post.

In a letter to the person, which Geitner posted to Twitter, UCHealth said it had “determined that it is necessary to place you inactive on the waiting list,” for “non-compliance by not receiving the COVID vaccine.”

The woman was reportedly given 30 days to begin a vaccination series, or she would be removed from the kidney transplant list.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the nation’s organ transplant system, says on its website that the decision to require vaccine is left to each transplant hospital based on its “best clinical judgment.”

Updated 10:06 a.m.