HealthDay News — Among orthotopic heart transplant (OHT) recipients, COVID-19 vaccination is associated with fewer COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths and no heart transplant-specific adverse events, according to a study published online April 27 in JAMA Cardiology.

Laura L. Peters, DNP, from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and colleagues used data from all adult recipients of OHT at a single US heart transplant program to assess the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in OHT recipients.

The researchers found that of the 436 OHT patients, 106 were infected with COVID-19. Among the 366 vaccinated patients, 19.7% had COVID-19 infections, 4.1% required hospitalizations (including 4 intensive care unit [ICU] admissions), and 3 patients died (0.8%). Among the 70 unvaccinated patients, 48.6% were infected, 14.3% were hospitalized, three required ICU admission, and 3 died (4.3%). There was a lower risk for all outcomes with COVID-19 vaccination (risk ratios: infection, 0.41; hospitalization, 0.29; death, 0.19). Six months after COVID-19 vaccination, there was no echocardiographic evidence of graft dysfunction, clinically significant rejection, or allosensitization among the vaccinated OHT recipients.

“Even though the immunogenic response to COVID-19 vaccination is lower in patients who receive a heart transplant, the vaccine appears to be safe and is associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death, suggesting it is imperative that all heart transplant recipients obtain the COVID-19 vaccine,” the authors write.

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