A small study offers the first indication that an extra dose of COVID-19 vaccines could give some organ transplant recipients a necessary protection boost. While most vaccinated people make a near-normal return, millions of people taking immunosuppressants for transplants, cancer, or other conditions remain in suspense without realizing how protected they really are. It’s just more difficult for vaccines to boost a weak immune system. Monday’s study only tracked 30 transplant patients, but it’s an important step.
It didn’t help everyone, but of the 24 patients who appeared to have no protection after the two routine vaccinations, eight of them developed a third of antibodies that fight after an additional injection, the Johns Hopkins University researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and six others who had minimal antibodies, got a big boost on the third dose. In latent patients, strong immune suppressants prevent the rejection of their new organs, but also make them extremely susceptible to the coronavirus.
They have been banned from initial testing of COVID-19 vaccines, but doctors are pushing for them to get vaccinated in hopes of at least some protection.Some benefit. Hopkins’ team recently examined more than 650 transplant recipients and found that about 54% contained antibodies that fight the virus after two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, although generally fewer than in otherwise healthy people who were vaccinated.