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COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness in Transplant Patients

In May 2021, Johns Hopkins published the results of a study with transplant recipients who had received both mRNA vaccinations (Pfizer or Moderna).  The study shows that the vaccines are effective in only about half of immunosuppressed individuals – significantly less than in the general population.  Other studies have also shown that these vaccines are less effective for transplant recipients.  TRIO has been following this changing issue closely as research results come in.

TRIO endorses the American Society of Transplantation expert recommendations that you can find at:

TRIO offers the following summary guidance in line with what is known today:

  1. DO get vaccinated with any of the three approved vaccines as soon as possible, and make sure your caregivers and families get vaccinated to reduce your risk.
  2. DO continue to practice the CDC recommendations of safe distancing, wearing masks, and washing regularly.
  3. DO seek your transplant team’s advice, understanding that they too are receiving evolving results from studies, but they are staying on top of the latest findings and providing individualized advice for each of their patients as findings are released from ongoing research studies.

Here’s more of what we know now: 

  1. Research continues with daily news of new discoveries.
  2. There are three parts of our immune system but to date we have seen results only from the study of the antibody part of those three (therefore we have limited knowledge about the full extent of vaccine effectiveness in people who don’t develop high antibody levels after vaccination) .
  3. It is not known what level of antibody production is an effective level, so at this time experts are NOT recommending (despite some individuals speaking to the contrary) that patients get antibody testing.
  4. At this time, experts are NOT recommending patients undergo a third vaccine shot (again, due to the unknown nature of the level of antibodies needed for protection and how the other two immune system parts play into this).

For more information and to get an idea of the extent of the research and studies here are links to some recently published information:

Journal of the American Medical Association:

US Health and Human Services:

NY Times Op Ed May 24, 2021:

Washington Post,  May 18

Scientific American:


Additional Transplant Resources