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Optimizing varicella immunization in children living with transplants to prevent disease and improve long-term health.
Dr. Karina Top, Dr. Catherine Burton, Dr. Manish Sadarangani


Chickenpox can be a serious infection in children with weakened immune systems due to medications given after organ transplant. We have avoided giving chickenpox vaccine in children with transplants due to concerns that the weakened live virus in the vaccine could cause chickenpox in these children. Studies now show that varicella vaccine is safe and effective in some of these children.
Based on these studies, vaccine and transplant experts developed a guideline for determining which children with organ transplants could safely get the varicella vaccine. We are studying how to use this guideline in transplant clinics, to identify concerns that parents and healthcare providers have about chickenpox vaccination in children with liver, kidney and heart transplants, and confirm that the vaccine is safe and effective when given according to standard protocols based on the guideline.
Though this study has been delayed due to the COVID19 pandemic, we are now conducting interviews with healthcare providers and parents at all sites and we are beginning to enrol children who are eligible to receive the chickenpox vaccine. We will be monitoring how well children respond to the vaccine and whether they develop adverse events after vaccination. The information we learn from this study will help us to better address parents’, children’s and healthcare providers’ concerns about varicella vaccination, and determine the best way to vaccinate children with organ transplants.

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