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25-06-2021 | COVID-19 | News

Oncologist participation ‘essential’ to improving COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Hannah Kitt

medwireNews: A survey of women with breast cancer in Mexico has revealed the key factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy as well as factors that would motivate them to be vaccinated.

Concern regarding adverse events was cited as the main factor for vaccine hesitancy, while the majority said that a recommendation from their oncologist would help overcome their hesitancy, report Cynthia Villarreal-Garza (Tecnologico de Monterrey, San Pedro Garza García, Mexico) and colleagues in a research letter to JAMA Oncology.

“Interventions directed toward raising awareness of the benefits of vaccination, especially among the most vulnerable, are a priority for increasing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines,” they comment.

The researchers used the social media channels of nongovernmental organizations dedicated to improving breast cancer care to invite 540 women with breast cancer who had not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to complete a web-based survey between March 12 and 26, 2021.

The majority (66%) of patients were willing to be vaccinated immediately, with a desire to prevent COVID-19 stated as the most common motivating factor (84%), followed by a desire to take care of their relatives (64%), a self-perceived social responsibility (64%), a fear of getting seriously ill (61%), and a desire for getting back to normal (52%).

Of the 34% of patients who were hesitant to be vaccinated, the majority (78%) said they would wait to see the vaccine’s adverse effects in others, 13% said that they would only be vaccinated if it became mandatory, and 10% said they would refuse the vaccine altogether.

The most common reason for vaccine hesitancy was fear of adverse reactions, reported by 54.6% of vaccine-hesitant patients, with distrust of the healthcare system and belief that the vaccine is not indicated for patients with breast cancer the next most common concerns, cited by 20.2% and 12.6%, respectively.

Other reasons for vaccine hesitancy included the vaccine not having been recommended by their physician (9.8%), belief that vaccination is not effective (9.3%), that it could cause COVID-19 (7.7%), and that it is unnecessary due to already having had COVID-19 (1.6%).

The researchers also identified various factors which would help to motivate vaccine-hesitant patients, with the most common reason (64.5%) for overcoming vaccine hesitancy being a recommendation from their oncologist.

In addition, patients said that receiving more information about its effectiveness (46.4%) and safety (42.6%), knowing someone close to them who did not experience adverse reactions (33.3%), and a recommendation by their primary physician (17.5%) would encourage them to get the vaccine. And 8.7% of this vaccine-hesitant group said they would get the vaccine if it became mandatory, while 3.3% would get it if it were endorsed by national authorities.

Looking into the most common misconceptions surrounding the vaccine, the team found that 21% of patients believed the vaccine may contain virus capable of causing infection, 5% thought that it is contraindicated in patients with breast cancer, 4% were of the opinion that it is not effective, 2% thought it carries a computer chip to surveil the population, and 1% believed it could cause infertility.

Villarreal-Garza and co-authors therefore conclude that “[s]trategies that focus on building vaccine literacy and confidence in the health care system are urgently needed to enhance vaccine acceptance.”

They continue: “To achieve this, clear and credible communication that addresses patient misinformation and specific concerns must be encouraged.

“Moreover, the active participation of oncologists is essential to educate cancer patients on the benefits of COVID-19 immunization and to endorse vaccination.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

25 June 2021: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

JAMA Oncol 2021; doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.1962

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