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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 211-218

COVID-19 vaccine uptake and vaccine hesitancy in Indian patients with cancer: A questionnaire-based survey

1 Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Biostatistics, Tata Memorial Centre, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Surgical Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Kumar Prabhash
Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_138_21

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Background: Patients with cancer are at a higher risk of severe forms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and mortality. Therefore, widespread COVID-19 vaccination is required to attain herd immunity. Objectives: We aimed to evaluate the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in Indian patients with cancer and to collect information regarding vaccine hesitancy and factors that contributed to vaccine hesitancy. Materials and Methods: This was a questionnaire-based survey conducted between May 7, 2021 and June 10, 2021 in patients aged 45 years and over, with solid tumors. The primary end points of the study were the proportion of Indian patients with cancer aged 45 years and older who had not received the COVID-19 vaccine, and the reasons why these patients had not received the COVID-19 vaccine. Our secondary end points were the proportion of patients with a history of COVID-19 infection, and the proportion of the patients who had vaccine hesitancy. Additionally, we attempted to assess the factors that could impact vaccine hesitancy. Results: A total of 435 patients were included in the study. Of these, 348 (80%) patients had not received even a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; 66 (15.2%) patients had received the first dose, and 21 (4.8%) had received both the doses. Approximately half (47.1%) of the patients reported that they took the COVID-19 vaccine based on the advice from a doctor. The reasons for not taking the COVID-19 vaccine could be considered as vaccine hesitancy in 259 (77%) patients. The two most common reasons were fear in 124 (38%) patients (fear of side-effects and of the impact of the vaccine on the cancer/therapy) and lack of information in 87 (26.7%) patients. On the multivariate analysis, the two factors found to be significantly associated with vaccine hesitancy were a lower educational level (OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1–3.17; P = 0.048) and a lack of prior advice regarding the COVID-19 vaccine (OR, 2.80; 95% CI, 1.73–4.53; P < 0.001). Conclusion: Vaccine hesitancy is present in over half of our patients, and the most common reasons are a fear of the vaccine impacting the cancer therapy, fear of side-effects, and lack of information. Widespread vaccination can only be attained if systematic programs for education and dissemination of information regarding the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine are given as much importance as fortification of the vaccination supply and distribution system.

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