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COVID-19 update: Aug. 27, 2021

COVID-19 update: Aug. 27, 2021

Committee meetings through Oct. 14 and all summer 2021 regional meetings to be virtual

In order to protect the safety of our community and their patients during the wave of Delta infections occurring right now, the OPTN will hold all committee meetings through October 14 virtually. Committee meetings after October 14 are still being assessed. Learn more about upcoming meetings.

The OPTN has also changed all summer 2021 regional meetings to virtual meetings. Please visit your region’s page for more information about your specific meeting. Registration and additional meeting details are available on your region’s webpage. Learn more about regional meetings.

Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine approved for immunocompromised people

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended emergency usage authorizations to administer an additional dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for certain immunosuppressed individuals, such as organ transplant recipients. For more information, refer to the FDA statement.

As of August 13, an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recommended an additional vaccine dose. We will update the COVID-19 resource page on the UNOS website with additional information as it becomes available.


Report issues now

The OPTN is collecting information about challenges and issues created by the outbreak in order to evaluate further improvements or assistance that HHS, the OPTN and UNOS can provide. Please use this survey tool to report interruptions or issues.

COVID-19 action regarding non-dialysis kidney candidate listing to sunset Sept. 1

The OPTN Executive Committee, meeting June 14, voted to sunset an emergency action that allows kidney transplant programs to list non-dialysis candidates who qualify for a transplant and document at a later date the data that supports their registration. This provision will expire effective Sept. 1, 2021.

The Executive Committee approved this provision in April 2020 as part of a set of emergency actions to assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee reviewed activity data and heard feedback from the OPTN Kidney Transplantation Committee and from kidney transplant clinicians. It concluded that while the provision helped transplant programs focus on clinical operations at the height of the pandemic, it has become less relevant as healthcare institutions resume ordinary operations. Learn more.

Communicating with your patients about COVID-19 prevention

Even in a time of evolving clinical understanding of COVID-19 precautions, it is important for transplant programs to communicate proactively and systematically with transplant candidates and recipients on ways to prevent COVID-19 transmission and to monitor themselves for potential exposure. Many patients are particularly seeking guidance on vaccination, in light of new recommendations for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised individuals.

UNOS will continue to update the COVID-19 resource pages on the OPTN and UNOS websites to aid in disease prevention. UNOS is working with medical and scientific organizations and public health agencies to provide transplant hospitals with updated information to guide patient care. As always, individual transplant programs are in the best position to advise patients in their care regarding vaccination, masking and social distancing.

Monitoring report available for lower respiratory testing of lung donors

A data report is now available showing key measures for the first month of monitoring lower respiratory SARS-CoV-2 testing for lung donors.

An emergency policy change implemented May 27, 2021, requires that all potential lung donors receive lower respiratory testing by nucleic acid test (NAT) for SARS-CoV-2, with test results made available prior to lung transplantation. Read the policy notice for more details.

The data report is available here on the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network website. The OPTN Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee will continue to monitor this emergency policy as data are submitted, and subsequent monitoring reports will be posted on an ongoing basis.

Transition back to in-person site surveys postponed

In order to protect the safety of our community and their patients as well as our staff during the current wave of Delta infections, the transition back to in-person site surveys is postponed. Site surveys will continue to be held virtually through September. We will continue to assess the situation and resume travel when it is safe to do so. Please email [email protected] with questions.


American Society of Transplantation Spanish language COVID-19 resources

Spanish language COVID-19 resources from AST, including a COVID-19 Vaccines for Hispanic Patients and Transplants recording.  

Updated COVID-19 FAQs for patients

As the pandemic continues to impact our lifesaving mission, find our newly updated list of frequently asked questions and answers on Transplant Living.


For COVID-19 related policy and operational questions, email [email protected]

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