Background: Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ was an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in early March 2020. By December 11, 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Pfizer-BioNTech gained FDA EUA. Subsequently, the FDA provided two additional companies, Moderna, and Jansen with FDA EUA for their COVID-19 vaccines. By March 11, 2021 we were able to start offering the single dose Jansen vaccine at the Holy Name MS Center to our patients and their caregivers.
Objectives: To determine the COVID-19 vaccination rate in our clinic population and potential reasons against vaccination.
Methods: Qualitative research study. During routine clinical care visits, patients were asked about whether they have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 or if they would like to be at the time of the clinic visit. Patients who refused vaccination or were unsure of whether they wanted it, discussed it further with their treating neurologist.
Results: From March 11, 2021 to April 16, 2021, 345 adult patients of the Comprehensive MS Center of Holy Name Medical Center were approached regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, 3 records are incomplete. 193/342 patients had already been fully or partially vaccinated or had a pending vaccination appointment and 100/342 patients accepted vaccination on the day of the clinic visit (86% vaccinated). Of the remaining patients, 14 were delaying the vaccine for medical/logistical reasons and 35/342 (10%) refused vaccination despite medical advice. Reasons provided for refusing vaccination included: no reason given 49% (17/35), 17% (6/35) felt it is too new, 6% (2/35) stated they would like it in the future, 6% were worried about medication interactions, 6% cited prior COVID-19 infection, and 6% never get vaccinated; additionally 3% (1/35) declined because I dont believe in it, believes it is a scam, lack of long-term safety data, and because it is not FDA approved.
Conclusions: It is feasible to offer COVID-19 vaccination to neurology outpatients. The acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination in this cohort is 86%, which is significantly better than reported rates of seasonal flu vaccination in the general population or health care workers, which are approximately 45% and 55% (1), but similar or worse than the rates of childhood mandatory vaccinations which are accepted at rates of 84-99% (2).
References Grech V, Borg M, Gauci C, et al. WITHDRAWN: Needed: less influenza vaccine hesitancy and less presenteeism among health care workers in the COVID-19 era [published online ahead of print, 2020 Oct 1]. Early Hum Dev. 2020;105215. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2020.105215
Jana Shaw, Emily M Mader, Brittany E Bennett, Olesya K Vernyi-Kellogg, Y Tony Yang, Christopher P Morley, Immunization Mandates, Vaccination Coverage, and Exemption Rates in the United States, Open Forum Infectious Diseases, Volume 5, Issue 6, June 2018, ofy130.