V. Valerio, H. C. Shen, E. Field, E. G. Mcdonald, A. Turner, S. Bernatsky, M. Hudson, I. Colmegna
2021 Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  
Background:Adults with rheumatic diseases are a COVID-19 vulnerable population with potential increased risk for severe infection. COVID-19 vaccines are a key strategy to ending the pandemic. Unfortunately, fears about vaccines, some of which are propagated by misinformation, are common and may prevent or inappropriately delay vaccination. Refusal or uncertainty to get a vaccine despite its availability is known as vaccine hesitancy.Objectives:This study aims at defining causes of COVID-19
more » ... ne hesitancy among rheumatology patients.Methods:Between November and December 2020, a cross-sectional survey was completed by rheumatology patients presenting to a large Canadian tertiary-care center for influenza immunization. COVID-19 risk factors, previous COVID-19 infection, the likelihood of getting a future COVID-19 vaccine (scale 0-10), and contextual, individual, and vaccine-specific potential determinants of vaccine hesitancy were assessed. Patients were classified into 5 groups based on how likely they were to get a future COVID-19 vaccine (0= not likely at all; 2.5= unlikely; 5= intermediate; 7.5= likely; 10= highly likely). A machine learning approach (XgBoost) was used to fit univariate models for a multi-class correlation.Results:157 rheumatology patients completed the survey. Most were females (n=112, 71%) with a mean age of 54.6 (standard deviation 17.9). The majority (73%) had tertiary-education, and 46% were employed at the time of the survey. The most common rheumatology diagnoses were rheumatoid arthritis (n=90, 58%), systemic lupus erythematosus/vasculitis (n=41, 26%) and spondyloarthropathies (n=39, 25%). Most patients were on immunosuppressors (n=93, 59%). Only half (n=85, 54%) were highly likely to accept a future COVID vaccine, 17% (n=26) likely, 19% (n=30) intermediate, 6% (n=10) unlikely, and 4% (n=6) not likely at all. One hundred thirty-five patients (86%) previously received the flu vaccine, whereas 6% (n=10) previously rejected it. Only three patients were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 (2%) one of whom was hospitalized. Eighty-seven patients (56%) considered that the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory, and 101 (65%) that they should receive it. Most respondents were somewhat concerned about receiving a future COVID-19 vaccine (n=116, 76%) despite that 65% believed that vaccines benefits outweighed their risks. Almost all, (n=145, 96%) believed that governmental decisions about vaccines are in the best interest of the population, while less than half (n=70, 45%) were confident that pharmaceutical companies would provide safe and effective vaccines. One hundred participants (65%) denied feeling social pressure to get the vaccine, and 55% (n=81) were willing to pay for the vaccine. Feeling social pressure about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, having severe concerns about receiving a future COVID-19 vaccine, distrust in pharmaceutical companies, lower education, and doubts of whether vaccines benefits outweigh their risks, were negatively associated with COVID vaccine acceptance.Conclusion:Forty six percent of rheumatology patients being immunized against influenza showed at least some hesitancy towards COVID-19 vaccination. Multiple contextual, individual, and vaccine-related factors may contribute. Targeted educational strategies, including producing and communicating data on vaccine safety, may help promote vaccine uptake in this potentially vulnerable population.Disclosure of Interests:None declared
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2021-eular.4150 fatcat:gfolxtdafngx3oa6mh5nm7yl5e