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COVID-19 information for patients

Last updated: March 23, 2021

BC Transplant is committed to supporting the wellbeing and safety of our patients and community. We understand this continues to be a stressful and anxious time for many people in the transplant community. All transplant programs are working tirelessly to protect the safety of patients and minimize risks related to COVID-19.

If you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact your health care team.

The transplant programs in BC follow guidance from BC public health officials, who determine how vaccines will be rolled out to British Columbians. 

BC has announced its plan to vaccinate people who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 if they were to get the virus. This group is called "clinically extremely vulnerable" (CEV), and includes post-transplant recipients. 

 

To learn more about the vaccination process for CEV patients, go to www.gov.bc.ca/cevcovid.


BC Transplant has a supplementary FAQ about COVID-19 vaccines and transplant (Mar 23, 2021).


The BCCDC also has the most current information about getting a vaccine.

To stay safe and healthy, transplant recipients and their close contacts are urged to continue to practice protective physical distancing and good hygiene (regular hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces).  You may should also continue to limit your contacts to only the people who live with you.

Like others who have underlying medical conditions, transplant recipients face greater risks if infected with COVID-19. We advise you to be informed of your risk, think through your risk tolerance and take extra precautions.


BCCDC COVID-19 Prevention and Risks Information

Masks have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Masks act as a barrier and help stop the spread of droplets from a person’s mouth and nose when talking, laughing, yelling, singing, coughing, or sneezing.

Wearing a mask should be combined with other important protective measures such as frequent hand washing and physical distancing. A mask is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on its own.

‎As a transplant recipient who is immunocompromised, you may be at higher risk of significant complications from COVID-19. As per public health orders, employers are expected to have policies in place to support physical distancing and prevent the spread of this virus. We strongly recommend discussing with your employer options for teleworking, flexible hours, staggered start times and use of email/teleconferencing or, where these options are not possible, potentially a leave from work.


Contact your transplant clinic if you or your close household contacts require support for these conversations with an employer.

As has been the case throughout this pandemic, each person and situation is different. Each person should consider the risks and benefits of each circumstance as it relates to their individual situation. We encourage you to work with your transplant team to discuss your individual risk and obtain any documentation you may require regarding your medical condition.

Public health guidance provides information on how to keep COVID-19 out of and stop transmission in schools to help maintain a healthy school environment for students, families, and staff.  Each school district and individual school may vary slightly in terms of specific safety protocols.


When considering whether in-person learning is the right choice for your children, we encourage you to understand the safety policies in place within your school environment and understand what alternative learning options may be offered for your child. Information about different learning options is available from your local school board. Additional information, including options for online and distributed learning and home-schooling is available from the Ministry of Education. The BCCDC has more information for children with immune suppression and on returning to school.


As always, consider all the things that you and your household contacts can do to lower the chances of getting and spreading the virus including regular hand-washing, adhering to physical distancing recommendations, wearing face masks where appropriate, and limiting the number of contacts your family has outside of your household. 


Talk to your health care provider about the risk. They can help you with steps that you should take to lower the risk to yourself and those you live with.

All transplant clinics across the province are limiting non-essential in-person clinic visits. Your appointment may take place over the phone or by video call.


Your transplant care team will let you know if you need to come into clinic for your appointment. This will depend on your health and the length of time since your transplant took place.


If you are asked to come into a clinic in-person, please be reassured that clinics have put in place measures to support physical distancing and public health requirements.


If you have an existing appointment, your transplant clinic will contact you to let you know next steps.

Your transplant care team will only order lab tests that they consider necessary at this time. If they are able to postpone bloodwork or other tests, they may do so.


Please ensure you go for required lab tests if requested by your care team. This will help your care team give you the best possible care.


If you are asked to visit a lab for tests, there are some precautions you can take:

 

- Schedule your appointment in advance to minimize waiting room time.
- Continue to wash your hands regularly, including before and after a visit.
- Keep a distance of at least one metre from others if possible.

- Depending on the length of your wait, you can also go outside of the lab and return as your appointment time gets closer.

If you are experiencing symptoms, such as a fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and/or cough, contact your transplant clinic for advice.

If you have an appointment, please let the clinic know if you have cold and/or flu symptoms. Do not come to the clinic without notifying staff.

As of July 6, 2020, BC Transplant pharmacies are fulfilling our normal 100-day limit for the amount of transplant medications provided at one time.


We encourage you to continue to carefully read all information given by your pharmacist, in case there are any changes to your medication refills. If you have any questions about your medications, please phone your transplant pharmacy or clinic.
BC Transplant and our pharmacy partners are here to help and support you and to make sure that your care continues in the safest way possible.

Getting your medications from transplant pharmacies
If you are feeling unwell and require medications, please do not visit your pharmacy. Instead, call your pharmacy and they will arrange to safely provide you with your medications. If necessary, pharmacies can offer medication delivery at no charge to transplant recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit Fair PharmaCare to learn more about financial assistance options including coverage, how to request an income review and the monthly deductible payment option.

UPDATED: March 30, 2020
BC Transplant pharmacies are limiting the amount of transplant medications they provide to a two-month supply at one time.
We want to reassure you that the transplant medication supply is currently stable. We are not facing a shortage of any of our transplant medications, including tacrolimus, cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), mycophenolate sodium, azathioprine, sirolimus, and prednisone.
BC Transplant is monitoring our supply chain very closely during the current COVID-19 situation in BC and around the world. The two-month limit is a precaution to help us ensure a stable long-term supply of necessary medications for all transplant recipients in BC.
We encourage you to continue to carefully read all information given by your pharmacist, in case there are any changes to your medication refills. If you have any questions about your medications, please phone your transplant pharmacy or clinic.
BC Transplant and our pharmacy partners are here to help and support you and to make sure that your care continues in the safest way possible.
Getting your medications from transplant pharmacies
If you are feeling unwell and require medications, please do not visit your pharmacy. Instead, call your pharmacy and they will arrange to safely provide you with your medications. Pharmacies are also making arrangements to deliver medications where possible.  

As of May 11, 2020, all transplant centres in BC are resuming scheduled living kidney transplants.

 
The donation and transplant programs in BC are aligned with updated public health measures and are taking the following actions:
  • Limiting non-essential in-person clinic visits by using virtual health (video and phone calls) where possible
  • Resuming living kidney donor transplants, and continuing with deceased organ donation and transplant, with a focus on protecting the safety of patients and staff, and minimizing risks related to COVID-19
  • Sharing resources and information to answer questions regarding COVID-19 for transplant patients

BC Transplant and the Transplant Research Foundation of BC have hosted two webinars on COVID-19 topics and transplant.

 

 


For more information on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

The BCCDC has a webpage for patients with chronic health conditions, which is relevant for transplant recipients, who are immunocompromised: BCCDC COVID-19 information for patients with chronic health conditions.

BC COVID-19 - Symptom Self Assessment Tool

      BCCDC COVID-19 Updates

This page was originally created March 16, 2020. The date at the top reflects the date it was most recently updated.





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