Vaccine perceptions among people with rheumatic disease

Plain Language Summary:

Vaccine perceptions among people with rheumatic disease 

A worldwide survey launched in April 2021, yielding 7,005 respondents with a wide array of rheumatic disease(s) indicated that 5,548 (79%) respondents received at least 1 vaccination. 

The 1,457 (21%) unvaccinated respondents reported as follows:

  • 883 (61%) were willing to receive a vaccination when available 
  • 275 (19%) were unsure about wanting a vaccination
  • 299 (20%) were unwilling to be vaccinated

The main reasons for reluctance were vaccination side-effects, safety, how quickly the vaccines were developed, and the speed of vaccine administration in clinical practice. Almost half of the unwilling respondents still considered themselves pro-vaccine.

99% of the respondents who were unsure about vaccination and 67% of the unwilling respondents reported that their willingness to be vaccinated could increase. Most of the respondents who were unwilling or unsure indicated the top three sources of information most likely to influence their decision were:

  • Doctors or other health professionals (85%)
  • Patient or professional organisations (69%)
  • News media (13%)

The survey results highlight that even after widespread vaccine administration, concerns about safety and effectiveness of vaccines remain for some people with rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists and patient organisations are the main resources with influence to reduce vaccination hesitancy. 

This anonymous survey was created collaboratively with input from multiple patient partners and was conducted globally in English from April 2, 2021 through July 1, 2021. The survey was translated into 11 other languages and was distributed on social media by the research team, Rheumatologists, and patient-facing organisations. The survey was also available on the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance (GRA) website. Respondents were aged 18 years or older (mean age 53.2 years), from 102 countries, and they reported one or more rheumatic diseases (excluding those with only osteoarthritis and/or fibromyalgia). 

Study Title

COVID-19 vaccine perceptions and uptake: results from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance Vaccine 

Survey published in The Lancet Rheumatology. 

Authors of original paper

Michael Putman MD, MSCI, Kevin Kennedy MA, Emily Sirotich BSc, Jean W Liew, MD MS, et al.

Lay summary contributors

Nadine Lalonde, Richard Howard, Jeffrey Sparks, John Wallace