In a message to the transplant patient community sent today (June 21st), Penn wrote:
A recent news segment featuring the personal experience and opinions from two U.S. transplant physicians regarding 3rd doses of COVID vaccination and testing for COVID-19 antibodies has led to questions from many transplant patients at our center as well as centers across the country.
The Penn Transplant Institute, in full alignment with the CDC and the American Society of Transplantation expert community, would like to clearly address our patients' concerns regarding these topics.
Regarding 3rd COVID-19 vaccine doses and/or re-vaccination after prior vaccination for Transplant Patients:
At this time, we do not have definitive data to suggest that 3rd vaccine doses or revaccination decrease symptoms or severity of COVID-19 infection, or that it increases protection amongst COVID-19 infection in transplant patients. Therefore, we do not currently recommend obtaining an additional booster vaccine if you have already been fully vaccinated.
Regarding COVID-19 antibody testing after vaccination:
Currently, there is no standard value to tell us what a protective level of antibody is and it is likely that true protection against COVID-19 involves multiple parts of the immune system; antibody is only one of these parts. Additionally, there is a high level of variability between the multiple different antibody testing platforms being used in laboratories. At this time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically recommends AGAINST antibody testing following vaccination. For all of these reasons, and in keeping with the FDA guidance, Penn Transplant does not recommend obtaining routine antibody testing after you have been vaccinated.
We continue to recommend the following for Transplant Patients:
• If you are awaiting transplant or are at least 1 month after transplant and have not been vaccinated, please speak with your provider about getting vaccinated.
• Make sure your household members and close friends, family, and co-workers all get vaccinated.
• If you are planning to get vaccinated, do not change your immunosuppression unless your provider recommends that you do so.
• Continue to protect yourself by wearing a mask when you are outside of your home and/or around unvaccinated people whom you do not live with and practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently. This includes when you are on the Penn campus or in one of our buildings, where masking is still mandatory.
We understand your concerns in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions being lifted in many areas, especially with healthcare figures suggesting other possible strategies for COVI D-19 vaccination and antibody testing in the media.
With the rapidly evolving literature, recommendations regarding booster vaccine and/or additional testing could change in the future, and we will be sure to inform you as soon as formal studies support changing our recommendations. As always, if you have questions about your particular situation, please do not hesitate to reach out to your team at Penn Medicine.