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Two of the largest hospitals in Northeast Ohio will now require their transplant candidates and living donors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
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A spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic told FOX Business that the health and safety of its patients is a "top priority" and emphasized that the "FDA-authorized vaccines have been determined to be safe and effective and are the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19."
"For the living donor, reducing the risk of a COVID-19 infection around the time of their surgery and recovery is crucial," the spokesperson said. "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."
Cleveland Clinic patients currently on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant from a deceased donor have until Nov. 1 to meet the new policy. Patients who do not meet the vaccination deadline will be made inactive on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waitlist.
"To date, we have not removed anyone from the transplant waiting list because they were not vaccinated," the clinic added.
Meanwhile, University Hospitals, which will also implement a vaccination policy for patients and living donors in the UH Transplant Institute, did not say when it would officially take effect.
"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," a UH spokesperson told FOX Business. "We are following policies in this area already put into place at several other Ohio and national systems, and recommended by national transplant associations."
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More than 216 million Americans ages 12 and up, or 76.4% of the population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 187 million, or 66% of the population, have been fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, over 7.7 million Americans have received a booster dose.
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