Cancer Research, Statistics, and Treatment

LETTER TO EDITOR
Year
: 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 561--562

Strategies aimed at overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among oncologic patients


Cynthia Villarreal-Garza, Bryan F Vaca-Cartagena, Andrea Becerril-Gaitan, Ana S Ferrigno 
 Breast Cancer Center, Hospital Zambrano Hellion TecSalud, Tecnologico de Monterrey, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo León, México

Correspondence Address:
Cynthia Villarreal-Garza
Breast Cancer Center, Hospital Zambrano Hellion TecSalud, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Batallon de San Patricio #112, San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo Leon
México




How to cite this article:
Villarreal-Garza C, Vaca-Cartagena BF, Becerril-Gaitan A, Ferrigno AS. Strategies aimed at overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among oncologic patients.Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:561-562


How to cite this URL:
Villarreal-Garza C, Vaca-Cartagena BF, Becerril-Gaitan A, Ferrigno AS. Strategies aimed at overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among oncologic patients. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 16 ];4:561-562
Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2021/4/3/561/325902


Full Text



In a recent article titled, “COVID-19 vaccine uptake and vaccine hesitancy in Indian patients with cancer: A questionnaire-based survey,” Noronha et al.[1] demonstrated a high hesitancy rate (59%) toward COVID-19 vaccination among oncologic patients in Mumbai. This finding is consistent with studies conducted in other regions,[2],[3] demonstrating that vaccine hesitancy persists as a critical impediment to prevent severe COVID-19 among cancer patients. Notably, the vaccine acceptance rate reported by Solís Arce et al.[4] among the general population in India (84%) presents a stark contrast. However, the absence of a validated instrument for assessing vaccine hesitancy and the use of a convenience sample by Noronha et al.[1]] limit the direct comparison of the results of these reports.

The most common reasons for not having received a COVID-19 vaccine were fear of its impact on cancer treatment and lack of information. Consequently, the authors recognized that educational campaigns are key to increasing vaccine acceptance. However, two other strategies could further enhance vaccination rates: (1) encouraging oncologists to routinely provide information on COVID-19 vaccines and promote vaccination and (2) implementing a priority program to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccines among cancer patients at a particularly high risk of presenting severe disease.

Noronha et al.[1] reported that nearly half of the patients who had already received a vaccine against COVID-19 had accepted it based on their physicians' advice. Furthermore, one in four hesitant patients reported that they could be convinced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if their treating physician recommended it. The importance of healthcare professionals in promoting vaccination has also been discussed in previous reports,[2],[3] and the findings of this study reinforce the need for oncologists to routinely assess for vaccine hesitancy and actively endorse vaccination. Nonetheless, the proportion of healthcare workers who counsel their patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been poorly explored and should be considered an area for future research. Furthermore, addressing vaccine hesitancy among healthcare professionals (estimated to be 19% worldwide[5]) should be considered an urgent priority.

Despite the authors stating that COVID-19 vaccines were widely available for the population studied, a substantial proportion of patients (18%) declared that they had not received a COVID-19 vaccine due to unavailability. Access to COVID-19 vaccines might be inadequate in resource-constrained settings; while it is desirable to give priority to all cancer patients, this might not be feasible. Hence, some countries with a restricted vaccine supply have opted to deny cancer patients a priority status, while others have conceded early vaccine to oncologic patients but report high levels of vaccine unavailability. Hence, it is essential to optimize immunization strategies and prioritize patients according to the risk of severe disease. Among the oncologic population, factors such as age, comorbid diseases, malignancy type, treatment status, and level of immunosuppression may place some patients at a higher risk of infection and severe COVID-19. Thus, if the vaccine supply is limited, some oncologic patients could be given preference to receive a COVID-19 vaccine over others. The development of clinical guidelines that establish vaccination priority protocols could optimize vaccine allocation.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

Dr. Villarreal-Garza: Grants from AstraZeneca and Roche; speaking honoraria from Roche, Myriad Genetics, Novartis, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly; travel fees from Roche, MSD Oncology, and Pfizer; and advisory roles at Roche, Novartis, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly.

References

1Noronha V, Abraham G, Bondili SK, Rajpurohit A, Menon RP, Gattani S, et al. COVID-19 vaccine uptake and vaccine hesitancy in Indian patients with cancer: A questionnaire-based survey. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:211-8.
2Villarreal-Garza C, Vaca-Cartagena BF, Becerril-Gaitan A, Ferrigno AS, Mesa-Chavez F, Platas A, et al. Attitudes and Factors Associated With COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Patients With Breast Cancer. JAMA Oncol 2021;7:1242-4.
3Barrière J, Gal J, Hoch B, Cassuto O, Leysalle A, Chamorey E, et al. Acceptance of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination among French patients with cancer: A cross-sectional survey. Ann Oncol 2021;32:673-4.
4Solís Arce JS, Warren SS, Meriggi NF, Scacco A, McMurry N, Voors M, et al. COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy in low- and middle-income countries. Nat Med 2021;27:1385-94.
5Mustapha T, Khubchandani J, Biswas N. COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in students and trainees of healthcare professions: A global assessment and call for action. Brain Behav Immun Health 2021;16:100289.