Skip to main content

COVID-19 information for patients

Last updated: November 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.

All pre- and post-transplant patients are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. 

Transplant recipients ages 12+ receive a three-dose vaccine series. 

Transplant recipients aged 5-11 are also eligible to be vaccinated, with 8 weeks between each of two doses. 

You can register with the Get Vaccinated provincial registration system to be notified when to book each vaccine dose. All patients should ensure they are registered as this will ensure they are notified when it is time to book an appointment.

After you get your vaccine, you will still need to follow any public health orders and advice. 

The BCCDC has the most current information about getting a vaccine.
A complete vaccine series for solid organ transplant recipients (aged 12+) involves three doses of COVID-19 vaccine (the general public gets a 2-dose series). This is because there is evidence that three doses of vaccine offer better protection for people who are immunocompromised.  A three-dose series is safe and recommended for transplant recipients.

A third dose of vaccine is different than vaccine boosters now starting to be available. You will likely also need a booster approximately six months after the third dose of your initial vaccine series.

How to get your third dose: You will be contacted by the provincial Get Vaccinated system about how and when to receive a third dose. If you believe you meet the criteria for a third dose and haven't been contacted, get in touch with your health care provider. Visit the provincial website for more information.

A third dose is safe and provides additional protection to transplant recipients; however, it is not known exactly how much additional protection a third dose will provide. Protection is still not likely the same as for people who are not immunocompromised (general population). Evidence suggests that it will improve protection from COVID-19 infection and – most importantly – from severe disease.

You will still need to be vigilant and continue to assess your own level of risk tolerance for choosing activities and interactions within the guidelines set out by Public Health.

View our webinar from September 2, 2021: COVID-19 vaccines and transplant recipients 

There are still many unknowns about how well protected transplant recipients are from COVID-19 after vaccination.

  • Emerging data suggest that transplant recipients, who are immunocompromised, have less immune response to the COVID-19 vaccines available in BC (even after receiving a third dose of vaccine).
  • We don't yet know how what is measured in blood relates with the actual level of protection against COVID-19.

Transplant recipients receive significant indirect protection when more of the community is vaccinated.

  • This reduces the amount of the virus circulating and the overall risk for everyone.
  • For transplant recipients, this "ring vaccination" (i.e. vaccinate everyone around them) provides the most protection, similar to other common vaccines.
As more people are fully vaccinated, and less COVID-19 virus circulates, this "ring" protection for transplant recipients will enable more confidence to increase social contacts and hopefully resume a life that looks closer to normal. 
Copy of Shield-Immunity-Transplant-Recips.png

BC Transplant and your transplant clinic recommend that you and your close contacts be fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

As restrictions ease through the BC Restart Plan, it is natural to feel anxious about a return to normal. You may have questions about what this means for you as a transplant recipient.
  • Continue to follow any measures recommended by public health.
  • Continue to follow the hygiene practices that help protect you from many common infections, as well as COVID-19: wash hands, regularly clean high-touch surfaces, avoid touching your face and stay away from others who are sick.
There is limited data that suggests vaccine immune responses are lower for transplant recipients. The safest choice is to continue to physically distance, meet in areas with good ventilation (e.g. outside), wear a mask, and keep your social circle to a small number of fully vaccinated people. 

You will have to assess your own level of risk tolerance for choosing activities and interactions beyond this. For example:
  • You will need to decide when and how to expand social contacts, and whether you know their vaccination status
  • Though masks are no longer required in public indoor settings, you might choose to continue to wear one.
  • You might choose to gather with a wider social circle outdoors rather than indoors.

Things to consider as you assess your risk:

What is the level of vaccination in your community? When more people are vaccinated, less virus will circulate in the community, and the risk may be lower for everyone.

What is the level of vaccination among your social circle? If your friends, family and close contacts are fully vaccinated, this reduces your risk of exposure to COVID-19.

How much COVID-19 is circulating in your community? The less COVID-19 is circulating, the lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

Can you make the activity safer? Your risk is lower when:
  • You are outdoors with fewer people; and/or
  • You have shorter contact time with physical distancing; and/or
  • Your social contacts are also fully vaccinated.
The highest risk is when you have prolonged, close contact without masks in poorly ventilated spaces and/or with people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Additional resources/information:
  • Antibody tests are not recommended to evaluate a person's level of immunity or protection from COVID-19 at any time, and especially after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • At this time, antibody levels cannot be used as a marker of immunity or protection from infection after the person has received a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Please note that the antibody testing conducted by Life Labs cannot detect antibodies generated after vaccination. It can only detect antibodies from an actual COVID infection. Life Labs has some information on their website on this.

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.

You may choose to continue to wear a mask even when no longer required, depending on your own comfort level and where you are (e.g. COVID activity in your community, vaccination levels in your community, outdoor vs. indoor activities). 

Transplant clinics across the province are continuing with a mix of virtual and in-person clinic visits. 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 measures to support physical distancing and public health requirements.

It's important to take your transplant medications as prescribed by your transplant team.  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.

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.  

For more information on COVID-19

The BCCDC has a webpage for patients with chronic health conditions, which is relevant for transplant recipients: 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.

SOURCE: COVID-19 information for patients ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Transplant. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2021 Provincial Health Services Authority