TRANSPLANT RECIPIENTS’ UNDERSTANDING AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE COVID-19 VACCINE

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.


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