Hesitancy of Arab Healthcare Workers Towards COVID-19 Vaccination: A Large-Scale Multinational Study
Health Care Workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of acquiring and transmitting COVID-19 infection. Also, they present role models for communities with regards to attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination. Hence, hesitancy of HCWs towards vaccination can crucially affect the efforts aiming to contain the pandemic. Previously published studies paid little attention to HCWs in Arab countries, which has a population of over 440 million. Objectives: to assess the rates of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in
... rabic-speaking HCWs residing in and outside the Arab countries, and their perceived barriers towards vaccination. Methods: a cross-sectional study based on an online survey was conducted from 14-Jan 2021 to 29-Jan 2021, targeting Arabic-speaking HCWs from all around the world. Results: the survey recruited 5,708 eligible participants (55.6% males, 44.4% females, age 30.6±10 years) from 21 Arab countries (87.5%) and 54 other countries (12.5%). Our analysis shows a significant rate of vaccine hesitancy among Arabic-speaking HCWs residing in and outside Arab countries (25.8% and 32.8%, respectively). The highest rates of hesitancy were among participants from the west region of the Arab world (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria). The most cited reasons for hesitancy were concerns about side effects and distrust in vaccine expedited production and healthcare policies. Factors associated with higher hesitancy included age of 30-59, previous or current suspected or confirmed COVID-19, female gender, not knowing the vaccine type authorized in the participant’s country, and not regularly receiving the influenza vaccine. Conclusion: this is the first large-scale, multinational, post-vaccine-availability study on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among HCWs. It reveals high rates of hesitancy among Arab-speaking HCWs. Unless addressed properly, this hesitancy can impede the efforts for achieving widespread vaccination and collective immunity.