Major transplants of hearts, kidneys, or lungs will be restricted to fully vaccinated individuals in the state of Queensland, Australia.
Queensland Health said the measures were in accordance with national and international protocols, according to a statement to The Epoch Times.
“A recipient is highly immunosuppressed post-transplant, which is why it’s incredibly important for the person to be vaccinated prior to transplant,” a spokesperson said, noting Queensland Health was concerned with the safety of patients before, during, and after transplant surgery.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
The decision was backed by clinicians, consumer groups, and Indigenous representatives at a Statewide Renal Network clinical forum.
Unvaccinated renal patients will be placed “On Hold” until they are fully vaccinated or if current policies change—a review is due in February 2022.
Chris Thomas, CEO of Transplant Australia, a charity that provides support to transplant recipients, said the organisation was “very sympathetic” to unvaccinated individuals waiting for a transplant.
“It is an extremely troubling time for patients as we are still waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel from this pandemic. However, evidence from across the world clearly shows both patients waiting, and those with a transplant are safer having been vaccinated against COVID-19,” he said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
“It is clear being vaccinated provides these patients waiting with increased protection as they proceed through the transplant process, being exposed to other patients as they visit hospital or clinic,” he added.
“In fact, the real question is why anyone waiting for a transplant, with their reduced immunity, increased co-morbidities and other ailments, would want to remain exposed to COVID, let alone go through an exhaustive hospital procedure without the benefits of vaccination?”
The Queensland government has ramped up vaccination efforts in the state as it prepares to open its domestic borders in mid-December.
Vaccine mandates have been rolled out across sectors such as education, correctional services, and airports.
At the same time, from Dec. 17—or once 80 percent of the local population is vaccinated—a raft of new restrictions will kick in for unvaccinated residents.
The approach follows in the footsteps of other Australian state leaders who are pushing to increase vaccination rates by incentivising “freedoms” to those willing to take the jab.
There are no current restrictions for individuals—jabbed or un-jabbed—who can mingle freely.
However, once the milestones are reached, only vaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter a range of businesses and venues, including restaurants, clubs, cafes, and stadiums—the rest will be locked out.
The end date to all restrictions in the state has yet to be announced.