My name is Elizabeth Rand. I’m Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I would like to talk a little bit about childhood immunizations.
Children who are preparing to have solid organ transplantations should have all standard pediatric immunizations and perhaps even additional immunizations, depending on what type of organ transplant they will be receiving. This is especially important for young infants, who may not have time to complete the full immunization schedule prior to transplant but who can benefit from getting as many immunizations as possible.
This is very important because immune-compromised children taking immunosuppressants to maintain their solid organ transplant will be at increased risk for serious infections, and even death, should they contract vaccine-preventable illnesses such as measles or pertussis after transplantation. In some solid organ transplants, for example in liver transplantation, immune suppression may be weaned enough that live virus immunizations can be given after transplantation. This can only be done, however, in consultation with the liver transplant physician who is following this child.
All solid organ transplant recipients are eligible to receive inactivated vaccines following transplantation. However, the efficacy of the vaccines may be reduced after transplantation. For these reasons, it is very important for young infants to receive all immunizations possible, even on an accelerated schedule where applicable. In any case, children should be carefully monitored for infections, and immunizations can continue to be given following transplantation.