Half of breast cancer patients hesitant to get COVID-19 vaccines say they fear side effects from the injections and 20% mistrust healthcare
- A third of breast cancer patients report hesitating to get the Covid-19 vaccine, new study finds
- Half of the group said their hesitation stems from fear of potential vaccine side effects and a fifth distrust the health care system
- Reluctant patients will most likely change their mind if their oncologist recommends the vaccine
- Research has shown that cancer patients are at an increased risk of dying from a virus compared to the average person
A third of breast cancer patients may be hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a new study suggests.
Of the 619 women who responded to a survey on breast cancer-related social media pages, 183 or 34 percent said they were hesitant to get vaccinated against the virus.
More than 50 percent of women said they fear side effects and about a fifth distrust the health care system.
The women also reported that they were most likely to be motivated to take the vaccine if it was recommended to them by their oncologist.
For the study, published in JAMA Oncology, the team surveyed 540 resisting women in Mexico who visited social media channels dedicated to improving breast cancer care.
Of the group, 357 said they were willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 immediately and 183 were hesitant to get vaccinated right away.
Of the hesitant group, 54.6 percent – 100 women – were afraid of side effects or adverse reactions and 20.2 percent – 37 women – who were suspicious of the health care system.
Other primary reasons women cited for not wanting the vaccine were that some believed the vaccine isn’t for women with breast cancer, 12.6 percent, or that their doctors didn’t recommend it to them, 9.8 percent.
Some also believe that the vaccine is either ineffective (17.9.3 percent) or may cause Covid-19 (14.7.7 percent).
The survey also asked what it would cost the women to get the vaccine.
Other potentially effective measures to get hesitant people vaccinated include giving patients more information about vaccine effectiveness (85, 46.4 percent) and safety (78, 42.6 percent).
The patients also trust their loved ones and other personal figures in their lives, as 61 (33.3 percent) responded that they would receive the vaccine if someone close to them did and experience no adverse reaction, and 32 (17.5 percent) percent) said they would get the vaccine if their GP recommended it to them.
The least effective measure was for the vaccine to be approved by state health officials, with only three hesitant respondents saying this would convince them to get the vaccine.
Researchers also found that those who were hesitant to get the vaccine were most likely under the age of 60, had no education after a high school diploma, and were unlikely to have gotten a flu shot in the past year.
The results appear to be consistent with strategies outlined by U.S. public health officials for getting hesitant people vaccinated.
While a majority of national figures have endorsed the vaccine and its effectiveness, many of those who are hesitant to get the vaccine are unlikely to be affected by them.
Instead, many officials have focused on getting GPs and community leaders — people with whom a hesitant person has a personal, trusting relationship — endorse the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
The researchers point out that oncologists, in particular, are key to getting more breast cancer patients vaccinated, as patients rely most on putting their health into them.
Researchers also note that their survey may have some limitations, as they relied on self-reported data from social media, and the sample size of 619 is relatively small.
Cancer patients are at increased risk of dying from Covid-19, and health experts say the best way to protect themselves is to get vaccinated.
A recent study found that patients with an active cancer diagnosis are up to 70 percent more likely to die from Covid-19 than the average person.
However, cancer patients may be more vulnerable than others even after receiving the vaccine, as another recent study found that cancer patients developed lower antibody levels after being vaccinated.