CLEVELAND (WJW)– Two of the area’s largest hospitals systems require patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before receiving an organ transplant.

The Cleveland Clinic said vaccination is required to be an active transplant candidate or living donor, while University Hospitals said the vaccine is mandated for the patient population at its transplant institute.

MetroHealth Medical Center said patients do not need to be vaccinated before a transplant, but said those considering transplant should get the vaccine as soon as possible prior to the surgery.

All three hospital systems emphasized the need to avoid further complications because of the virus, especially given immunosuppression medications are needed to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.

Statement from the Cleveland Clinic:

The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. Cleveland Clinic has recently developed safety protocols for solid organ transplantation that require COVID-19 vaccination to be an active transplant candidate or living donor. Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety. For the living donor, preventing COVID-19 infection around the time of a surgical operation is crucial. For the transplant candidate, in addition to a major operation, medications taken after an organ transplant weaken a person’s immune response. Serious complications of COVID-19 are most likely to develop in those individuals who have weakened immune systems, as their body has a reduced ability to fight and recover from infections. The FDA-authorized vaccines have been determined to be safe and effective and are the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Statement from University Hospitals:

The health and safety of our patients is a top priority for us at University Hospitals. In light of recent studies pointing to the risk solid organ recipients and living donors face if they contract COVID-19, the UH Transplant Institute will begin requiring COVID vaccinations for its patient population.  We are following policies in this area already put into place at several other Ohio and national systems, and recommended by national transplant associations. Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety. Transplant recipients are required to take medications to prevent organ rejection which weakens the immune system.  For living donors, prevention of COVID around the time of surgery is essential.  The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19.