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Q+A: How Can We Persuade Organ Donors to Vaccinate Against COVID-19?

vaccines in lab

May 17, 2021

More than 150 million Americans – 46 percent of the country – has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 36 percent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated. Despite very rare side effects, public health officials consider vaccines to be effective at preventing severe illness and be the ticket to something resembling pre-pandemic life.

Although herd immunity may not be reached, COVID-19 vaccination may be correlated with drops in COVID-19 cases, according to an ABC News analysis. Also, following a drop in cases and knowledge of the effectiveness of vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recent guidance that “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations.”

As COVID-19 vaccines become increasingly available in the United States, public health experts are making efforts to address vaccine hesitancy, especially among healthy adults that were not prioritized for vaccines when they first became available. Healthy adults who get vaccinated against COVID-19 protect not only themselves but also the people in society who might not receive as much protection from COVID-19 vaccines, such as immunosuppressed organ transplant recipients.

Living organ donors are healthy individuals in society who have provided a selfless gift, and in doing so also have unique insights about the vulnerabilities of organ transplant recipients. In a recent study published in Kidney 360 by Meera Harhay, MD, an associate professor of Medicine in Drexel University’s College of Medicine and Dornsife School of Public Health, and co-authors including Dornsife School of Public Health Professor Ann Klassen, PhD, and College of Medicine student Hasan Zaidi, offers new insights into what convinces some in this unique population to become vaccinated against COVID-19 and what may lead others to hesitation.

On the Drexel News Blog Harhay shares some of the main takeaways from the paper, including how understanding hesitations may help increase the number of transplant procedures performed to pre-pandemic levels and help us all turn the tide against COVID-19.

Read the Q+A via the Drexel News Blog