COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Australian Patients with Solid Organ Cancers
Bain N., Nguyen M., Grech L., Day D., McCartney A., Webber K., Kwok A., Harris S., Chau H., Chan B., Nott L., Hamad N., Tognela A., Underhill C., Loe BS., Freeman D., Segelov E.
Background: Vaccination is the cornerstone of the global public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Excess morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 infection is seen in people with cancer. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy has been observed in this medically vulnerable population, although associated attitudes and beliefs remain poorly understood. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey of people with solid organ cancers was conducted through nine health services across Australia. Demographics, cancer-related characteristics and vaccine uptake were collected. Perceptions and beliefs regarding COVID-19 vaccination were assessed using the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Scale, the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Complacency Scale and the Disease Influenced Vaccine Acceptance Scale-6. Results: Between June and October 2021, 2691 people with solid organ cancers completed the survey. The median age was 62.5 years (SD = 11.8; range 19–95), 40.9% were male, 71.3% lived in metropolitan areas and 90.3% spoke English as their first language. The commonest cancer diagnoses were breast (36.6%), genitourinary (18.6%) and gastrointestinal (18.3%); 59.2% had localized disease and 56.0% were receiving anti-cancer therapy. Most participants (79.7%) had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Vaccine uptake was higher in people who were older, male, metropolitan, spoke English as a first language and had a cancer diagnosis for more than six months. Vaccine hesitancy was higher in people who were younger, female, spoke English as a non-dominant language and lived in a regional location, and lower in people with genitourinary cancer. Vaccinated respondents were more concerned about being infected with COVID-19 and less concerned about vaccine safety and efficacy. Conclusions: People with cancer have concerns about acquiring COVID-19, which they balance against vaccine-related concerns about the potential impact on their disease progress and/or treatment. Detailed exploration of concerns in cancer patients provides valuable insights, both for discussions with individual patients and public health messaging for this vulnerable population.