Immunization after renal transplantation: current clinical practice

Transpl Infect Dis. 2015 Apr;17(2):192-200. doi: 10.1111/tid.12368.


Background: The use of potent immunosuppressive drugs and increased travel by renal transplant recipients (RTR) has augmented the risk for infectious complications. Immunizations and changes in lifestyle are protective. The Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Transplant Work Group has developed guidelines on vaccination following solid organ transplantation. The degree of adherence to these guidelines is unknown, as is which barriers must be overcome to improve adherence.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional national survey among Dutch nephrologists to assess vaccination policy and adherence to the KDIGO guidelines. In addition, to investigate awareness and attitude of RTR regarding their risk of infection, we performed a cross-sectional survey of RTR in our outpatient clinic.

Results: A total of 132 (63%) nephrologists completed the survey. Reported immunization rates were 90.8% for influenza and 27.3% for hepatitis B. However, pneumococcal, tetanus toxoid, and meningococcal immunization rates were low. Twenty-seven percent of respondents were familiar with the guideline contents. The most frequent perceived barrier to guideline adherence was expectation of low effectiveness. A total of 403 RTR (62%) completed the survey. Sixty-eight percent perceived more risk for complicated infection. A significant correlation was found between education level and variables concerning awareness and attitude toward risk of infection.

Conclusions: Our results show that nephrologists' knowledge of and adherence to the recommendations regarding immunization after renal transplantation is suboptimal. Most Dutch RTR are aware of their increased risk and the possible seriousness of infectious complications. However, their behavior does not match their awareness. This disparity points to an important role for nephrologists in providing adequate counseling.

Keywords: barriers; guideline adherence; immunization; infection; renal transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Meningococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Nephrology*
  • Netherlands
  • Pneumococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tetanus / prevention & control
  • Tetanus Toxoid / therapeutic use
  • Travel
  • Vaccination / methods*


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Tetanus Toxoid