Willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine among patients with rheumatic diseases, healthcare workers and general population in Turkey: a web-based survey.Rheumatol Int. 2021 06; 41(6):1105-1114.RI
Vaccination against COVID-19 emerges as an effective strategy for combating the pandemic. While many of our patients with rheumatic diseases (RD) wonder whether it is safe to get the vaccine, vaccine hesitancy is rising among the general population. We assessed the willingness to get vaccination and its probable predictors among patients with RD compared to healthcare workers and a sample from the general population.
We conducted a web-based questionnaire survey in a cross-sectional design in 3 groups of participants just before the mass vaccination program in Istanbul, Turkey. The questionnaire sought socio-demographic variables, COVID-19 related risk factors, willingness to get vaccination, and concerns and thoughts about vaccine. COVID-19 anxiety scale (CAS) was also evaluated.
We studied in total 732 patients with RD (Group 1), 763 individuals representing general population (Group 2) and 320 hospital workers (Group 3). Dysfunctional anxiety related to COVID-19 was found in 4.9%, 3.8% and 4.1%, in Group 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Of the patients with RD, 29.2% were willing to be vaccinated, 19.0% were unwilling and 51.8% were undecided. These were somewhat similar among the general population (yes: 34.6%, no: 23.3% and unsure: 42.1%), with significantly less undecided individuals (p < 0.001). On the other hand, hospital workers were significantly more willing (yes: 52.5%, no: 20.9% and unsure: 26.6%) (p < 0.001). Main concerns were probable side effects, unknown scientific results and having no trust. Being male, older age, working in a hospital, not having contracted COVID-19 and high scores on CAS were found to be independently associated with willingness.
The low rate of vaccine acceptance among patients with RD, as well as general population sampling is worrying. Healthcare policies should aim to implement communication, promote confidence and increase demand for COVID-19 vaccine.