As COVID-19 vaccinations became available and were proven effective in preventing serious infection, uptake amongst individuals varied, including in medically vulnerable populations. This cross-sectional multi-site study examined vaccine uptake, hesitancy, and explanatory factors amongst people with serious and/or chronic health conditions, including the impact of underlying disease on attitudes to vaccination. A 42-item survey was distributed to people with cancer, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis across ten Australian health services from 30 June to 5 October 2021. The survey evaluated sociodemographic and disease-related characteristics and incorporated three validated scales measuring vaccine hesitancy and vaccine-related beliefs generally and specific to their disease: the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Scale, the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Complacency Scale and the Disease Influenced Vaccine Acceptance Scale-Six. Among 4683 participants (2548 [54.4%] female, 2108 [45.0%] male, 27 [0.6%] other; mean [SD] age, 60.6 [13.3] years; 3560 [76.0%] cancer, 842 [18.0%] diabetes, and 281 [6.0%] multiple sclerosis), 3813 (81.5%) self-reported having at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Unvaccinated status was associated with younger age, female sex, lower education and income, English as a second language, and residence in regional areas. Unvaccinated participants were more likely to report greater vaccine hesitancy and more negative perceptions toward vaccines. Disease-related vaccine concerns were associated with unvaccinated status and hesitancy, including greater complacency about COVID-19 infection, and concerns relating to vaccine efficacy and impact on their disease and/or treatment. This highlights the need to develop targeted strategies and education about COVID-19 vaccination to support medically vulnerable populations and health professionals.
COVID-19, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, vaccine hesitancy