The Australian state of Queensland is denying life-saving organ transplants to patients who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the state’s official health agency, Queensland Health, patients must have “a minimum requirement of two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine prior to receiving a kidney, lung or heart transplant.”
“Queensland follows national and international practices regarding transplantation and vaccination protocols,” the department said in a statement. “The safety and wellbeing of all our patients is our number one priority.”
Authorities within the agency went on to defend the mandate, arguing that such a policy was put in place to protect the immunocompromised.
“A recipient is highly immunosuppressed post-transplant, which is why it’s incredibly important for the person to be vaccinated prior to transplant. Queensland Health prioritises safety before, during and after a transplant,” the department said. “That is why the Queensland Kidney Transplant Service has endorsed a minimum requirement of two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine prior to receiving a kidney, lung or heart transplant.”
“Prior to transplant and as per normal process, the recipient must ensure all of their vaccinations are up to date. The COVID-19 vaccination is no different,” it added.
Patients who choose to forgo receiving the COVID shot will be forced to wait until the restriction is removed to have their respective procedures, according to 7News, with the policy set to be officially reviewed in February 2022.
Similar occurrences of health-related institutions denying medical care based on vaccination status can also be found in the United States. In October, the Cleveland Clinic announced it will require all organ transplant donors and recipients to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety. For the living donor, preventing COVID-19 infection around the time of a surgical operation is crucial,” the hospital system said in a statement. “For the transplant candidate, in addition to a major operation, medications taken after an organ transplant weaken a person’s immune response.”