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24-02-2021 | Oncology | News | Article

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Survey reveals willingness of cancer patients to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Hannah Kitt

medwireNews: A survey of patients attending four French cancer centers shows that over half are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, no data is available yet to formally assess the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine in cancer patients,” say say Jérôme Barrière (Clinique Saint Jean, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France) and colleagues in a letter to the Annals of Oncology.

But they add: “The high efficacy of mRNA vaccines favored by the booster dose allows us to hope for a sufficient protective efficacy for a majority of patients, associated a priori with an equal tolerance to the general population, though to be confirmed.

“Studies with stratification according to the type of [anticancer] treatment and the type of vaccine are a priority for the international oncology community.”

Of the 999 patients who completed a survey between November and December 2020, over half (53.7%) were willing to have the vaccine as soon as it was offered, 29.7% were not prepared to take the vaccine yet but were likely to change their mind, and 16.6% intended to definitely refuse the vaccine.

The most common motivations among the group willing to be vaccinated as soon as possible included health concerns (76.9%), the desire to protect their families (49.9%), the sense of collective responsibility (45.6%), and the desire to return to a normal life (38.7%).

Individuals who were uncertain said more information on the efficacy (59.4%) and safety (50.3%) of the vaccine could help to convince them, while 35.3% said more information on the type of vaccine they would receive could help. Neither a sense of collective responsibility nor the desire to return to a normal life were major arguments for this group.

The main reason cited by the patients unwilling to receive the vaccine was a lack of confidence in the scientific results (88.0%), followed by a fear of side effects (30.0%). Just 3.6% of these patients said they would refuse the vaccine because they believed COVID-19 to be benign.

Significantly fewer patients who were unwilling to be vaccinated considered their oncologist to be qualified to give advice compared with those who were willing or uncertain (38.6 vs 62.9 and 63.3%, respectively) and a significantly greater proportion cited personal judgment as their main source of reliable information (45.8 vs 12.7 and 16.5%).

The median age of the survey respondents was 67 years, 56.1% were women, and 54.3% had received the influenza vaccine in 2020. Forty-seven percent of the surveyed patients were receiving active anticancer treatment, 40.0% were under surveillance, and 13.0% were receiving hormonal therapy.

Multivariate analysis showed that the predictors of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance were prior receipt of the influenza vaccine, male sex, and age older than 69 years, with significant odds ratios of 3.8, 1.8, and 1.4, respectively.

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

24 February 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.

Ann Oncol 2021; doi:10.1016/j.annonc.2021.01.066 

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