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Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals now requiring vaccine for transplant recipients, donors

Cleveland Clinic and UH officials say that the vaccine provides an additional level of protection for transplant patients who often have weakened immune systems.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published, unrelated story.

Two of Northeast Ohio's most prominent healthcare systems have announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for transplant donors and recipients. 

According to officials with the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals (UH), in order to better protect patients, the hospital system has decided to require full vaccination for solid organ transplants.

"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," Cleveland Clinic officials said in a statement. 

"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," said a representative for UH. 

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Officials go on to say that for transplant donors and recipients, who often have weakened immune systems, the COVID-19 vaccine is an extra layer of protection against the severe illnesses and reactions that can come with a coronavirus infection. 

"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 statement from Cleveland Clinic continues. 

"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 safe," said the UH officials. 

RELATED: Answering your COVID questions: What treatments are available for those who have been infected? How soon could Pfizer's vaccine be approved for kids?

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine was initially approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization in December 2020, and was later given full approval to individuals 12 and older in August of this year. 

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Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published, unrelated story.