Effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine for the transplant community

Blog - Jessica Jones, Public Affairs and Policy Analyst -

The Trust's Jessica Jones, Public Affairs and Policy Analyst, outlines information and advice around the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with cystic fibrosis (CF) who have had a transplant. 

Throughout the pandemic we have been regularly tracking and communicating data within the UK CF Registry on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the CF population. We also called for and championed the prioritisation of people with CF within the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, and it’s great that many within the community have now received both vaccination doses.

Published research, which includes UK CF Registry data, shows that the risk of someone with CF acquiring COVID-19, and requiring a hospital admission, is higher than in people of the same age in the general population. A global data initiative led by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has shown that having lower baseline lung function or having had a solid organ transplant increased the risk of severe infection from COVID-19.

Emerging scientific data suggests that people who have had a solid organ transplant, such as a lung, may not develop the same level of protective antibodies to the COVID-19 vaccination as people who are not immunosuppressed. Scientists do not yet know whether this means that these people are less protected by the vaccine than others, as we have not yet had enough data from the real world. It is possible, for example, that other types of immune cells may compensate to provide additional protection even in the absence of a good antibody response.  

Dr Thom Daniels, Cystic Fibrosis Consultant and Chair of the UK CF Medical Association (UKCFMA) Lung Transplant Group said: “Whilst it is disappointing that cases of COVID-19 after vaccination in transplant recipients may still occur, it is vital to recognize that the vaccine may reduce the chances of catching the virus and may reduce the severity of infection. It may also help prevent you and other vaccinated people passing it on to other people. Keeping as well as possible, together with sensible social distancing measures, face mask wearing, hand hygiene and full vaccination gives you the best chance of staying well.’’

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust is continuing to lead work with Global CF and vaccine partners to gather more data which will be shared as soon as possible. 

We understand that this emerging evidence may cause concern, and our Helpline is available if you need to talk things through with someone. NHS Blood and Transplant have released a factsheet containing further information about vaccines for both transplant recipients and those waiting for a transplant.

For advice specific to you, please speak to your transplant team who will know your individual health circumstances.

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