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COVID-19 Q&A: Was the vaccine tested on people with kidney transplants?

Send us your questions about the COVID-19 vaccination process.
Send us your questions about the COVID-19 vaccination process.(KTUU)
Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 11:38 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska News Source is answering viewer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Question:

“Have the vaccines been tested on people with kidney transplants?” - Laurine

Answer:

We asked this question in the context of testing the vaccine among individuals who’ve had organ transplants or who may have compromised immune systems.

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said it’s important to speak with your primary care doctor about your questions and individual health status. She also recommends reading the New England Journal of Medicine articles on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

In a fact sheet dated Dec. 8, the American Society of Transplantation states “the safety of mRNA vaccines is still under investigation in solid organ transplant recipients. Expert opinion is that based on their mechanism of action, they are unlikely to trigger rejection episodes, but more data will be needed in transplant recipients.”

“I would emphasize that these are not live vaccines. So if someone is immunosuppressed or an organ transplant, there’s not the same risk of the virus kind of growing like there would be in a live vaccine,” Zink said.

“How someone’s immune response would be able to react if they’re significantly immunosuppressed because of an organ transplant is going to be really dependent on what sort of immunosuppressant medication you’re on,” she said.

The American Kidney Fund has said that “people with kidney disease were enrolled in both the Pfizer and Moderna trials, but we do not know yet whether there were any differences in how the vaccine worked in those with kidney disease compared to those without kidney disease.”

The AKF also states on its website that “unfortunately, there was not enough information from results of the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials on the safety of the vaccines specifically for people who take immunosuppressive drugs, such as kidney transplant recipients. However, vaccines that do not involve giving a patient a living virus are generally safe. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not involve giving a patient a living virus, so they are expected to be safe to give to transplant recipients unless the transplant recipient has a different health reason not to be vaccinated.”

According to the AKF, because “not enough transplant patients were included in the trials, we do not know how effective the vaccine may be in transplanted patients. Even if a transplant patient is vaccinated, it is extremely important that transplant patients continue to follow all guidelines to avoid being exposed to COVID-19.”

If you are living with a kidney transplant, the organization recommends speaking with your nephrologist about the COVID-19 vaccine.

More information on the Moderna vaccine, including clinical trials, is available here. More information on the Pfizer vaccine, including clinical trials, is available here.

Editor’s Note: Viewer questions are lightly edited for clarity.

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