THARMARAJ D1,3, DENDLE C2,3, POLKINGHORNE K1,3, MULLEY W1,3
1Department of Nephrology, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Australia , 2Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University and Monash Infectious Disease, Monash Health, Clayton, Australia, 3Department of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Aims: To assess the COVID-19 vaccine understanding, attitudes and hesitancy in renal transplant recipients prior to vaccination.
Background: Transplant recipients are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is currently a major public health concern.
Methods: An anonymous ‘COVID-19 vaccine understanding, and attitudes’ online survey was distributed to kidney transplant recipients at our centre. Participants were categorized by intention to have the vaccine: yes, no and undecided. Comparisons were made between the yes and undecided (hesitant) groups.
Results: Of 876 surveys sent, 473 recipients responded (response rate 54%). 346 (73.15%), and 105 (22.20%) recipients were in the yes and undecided categories respectively (no group 22 (4.65%) are not considered further). Yes and undecided groups were similarly concerned about their risk of COVID-19 infection. Relative to the yes group, the undecided group were younger (mean age 58.53, SD 12.09 vs.54.69, SD 12.49, p=0.005), but were not different in other characteristics including gender, education level, occupation status, transplant duration or comorbidities (p-value>0.05 for all). The undecided group felt less positive about the vaccine, less relief it was available and had greater concerns about vaccine safety, effectiveness, and potential side effects (p-values all <0.001). The undecided group also felt more need for vaccine specific information and a recommendation from their nephrologist before committing to vaccination (p<0.001). Recipients ranked mask wearing, handwashing, and social distancing (both individually and collectively) more effective in reducing COVID-19 infection risk than vaccination (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Vaccine hesitant recipients had concerns pertaining to vaccine safety and effectiveness. Vaccine specific information and a recommendation from their Nephrologist were identified as mechanisms to increase vaccine acceptance in this cohort.
Dhakshayini has completed her Nephrology Advanced Training through Monash and Eastern Health networks and is currently undertaking her PhD in the field of Renal Transplant medicine at Monash Health.