Vaccinations for adult solid-organ transplant recipients: current recommendations and protocols

Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003 Jul;16(3):357-64. doi: 10.1128/CMR.16.3.357-364.2003.


Recipients of solid-organ transplantation are at risk of severe infections due to their life-long immunosuppression. Despite emerging evidence that vaccinations are safe and effective among immunosuppressed patients, most vaccines are still underutilized in these patients. The efficacy, safety, and protocols of several vaccines in this patient population are poorly understood. Timing of vaccination appears to be critical because response to vaccinations is decreased in patients with end-stage organ disease and in the first 6 months after transplantation. For these reasons, the primary immunizations should be given before transplantation, as early as possible during the course of disease. Vaccination strategy should include vaccination of household contacts and health care workers at transplant centers unless contraindicated. No conclusive data are available on the use of immunoadjuvants and screening for protective titers. Most vaccines appear to be safe in solid-organ transplantation recipients, but live vaccines should be avoided until further studies are available. The risk of rejection appears minimal. Recommended vaccines include pneumovax, hepatitis A and B, influenza, and tetanus-diphtheria. We outline specific protocols and recommendations in this particular patient population. Specific contraindications exist for other vaccines, such as yellow fever, oral polio vaccine, bacillus Calmette-Guerin, and vaccinia. We conclude that solid-organ recipients will benefit from consistent immunization practices. Further studies are recommended to improve established protocols in this patient population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine / immunology
  • Graft Rejection
  • Hepatitis A Vaccines / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / immunology
  • Vaccination*


  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine
  • Hepatitis A Vaccines
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines