COVID-19 vaccination for people with liver disease
The declining corona infection numbers give cause for hope. They can also be traced back to the vaccinations against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus or the COVID-19 disease caused by the pathogen. But not all particularly vulnerable people have been vaccinated yet. Vaccination is particularly important for some people – including those with liver disease.
In more and more federal states, vaccination prioritization for medical practices is being lifted. Many people with liver disease and liver transplants are among the priority people to be vaccinated. The German Liver Aid e. V., the German Liver Foundation and the Gastro-Liga e. V. emphasize the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination for this risk group.
Increased risk of liver disease
“The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) regularly evaluates the recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination, taking into account the vaccination rates, the surveys on vaccination acceptance and studies on vaccination effectiveness and safety,” explains Professor Dr. Christoph Sarrazin, CEO of Deutsche Leberhilfe e. V. in one Message.
“Among the diseases that, according to studies, could currently be associated with an increased risk of a severe COVID-19 course, the STIKO includes cirrhotic and severe liver diseases – including liver cirrhosis, chronic liver failure and post-liver transplantation,” said the expert.
The organizers of the 22nd German Liver Day on November 20, 2021 – Deutsche Leberhilfe e. V., German Liver Foundation and Gastro-Liga e. V. “support this vaccination recommendation, and we refer to initial analyzes that show that the immune system of organ transplant recipients shows a reduced immune response to vaccinations in general as well as to vaccination against COVID-19,” explains Prof. Sarrazin.
“That is why protection through contact restrictions and compliance with the known hygiene and distance rules remain important for this group of patients. The COVID-19 vaccination of household members of organ transplant recipients can offer additional protection. “
Vaccination prioritization partially canceled
After more than a year of pandemic, many corona measures that are intended to reduce the risk of infection, such as wearing masks, keeping your distance and hygiene rules, have almost become a matter of course for most people.
In addition, vaccines against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been administered in Germany since the end of December 2020 – so far, four vaccines have been approved in the European Union.
More than fifteen percent of the total German population are now fully vaccinated. Due to the high demand for vaccines and the limited production capacities, priority was and is given in vaccination centers in Germany as well.
However, vaccination prioritization for medical practices is currently being lifted in more and more federal states. As stated in the announcement, many people with liver disease and liver transplants are among the priority people to be vaccinated.
The organizers of the German Liver Day recommend vaccination with the currently available and approved vaccines on the basis of the data and findings available to date.
This also applies to patients with fatty liver and chronic viral hepatitis as well as to all rare liver diseases such as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and vascular liver diseases. Vaccination is particularly urgent for people with liver cirrhosis, patients on the waiting list for a liver transplant and those who have already had liver transplants.
All approved COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines, they are not contagious and are also suitable for immunocompromised people.
The side effects known to date include flu-like symptoms and reactions directly at the injection site. Severe allergic reactions have only occurred in rare cases; therefore, additional precautionary measures should be taken in consultation with a doctor in people with a known predisposition.
The benefit of vaccination, which protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection, theoretically far outweighs possible undesirable vaccination reactions, so that vaccination is recommended for all patients.
Positive risk-benefit ratio
With two vector vaccines (AstraZeneca / Johnson & Johnson) very rare cases of cerebral vein thromboses and other thromboses were observed, explains the German Liver Foundation eV at their website.
With AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria vaccine, a causal relationship is now considered likely. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) emphasizes the positive risk-benefit ratio for this vaccine as well.
Since April, the STIKO has only recommended the vaccine for people aged 60 and over. However, if they so wish, younger men and women may also be vaccinated with Vaxzevria after medical judgment, personal risk assessment and careful education.
On April 20, 2021, the EMA also published a statement on the use of the COVID-19 vector vaccine from Janssen-Cilag / Johnson & Johnson and continues to assess the overall benefit-risk assessment as positive.
The use of this vaccine below the age limit of 60 years also remains possible after medical advice and with individual risk acceptance by the person to be vaccinated.
No additional vaccination risks for those with liver disease
No additional vaccination risks are known to date for people with liver disease. All side effects are monitored, collected in registers and evaluated.
In particular, patients with autoimmune liver diseases are often very cautious and skeptical about vaccinations, as they fear that their disease will worsen.
Again, according to the experts, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the possible risks.
In any case, it is advisable for people with liver disease to speak to their general practitioner or the treating specialist before a COVID-19 vaccination – especially if there are any questions or fears. (ad)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- Deutsche Leberhilfe eV: Press release: “Your liver. Your life. “: COVID-19 vaccination and caution are particularly important for those with liver disease (accessed: 30.05.2021), lebertag.org
- Deutsche Leberhilfe eV: Info page: COVID-19, liver diseases and vaccinations, (accessed: 30.05.2021), German Liver Aid eV
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.