Attitudes and beliefs towards COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination among rheumatology patients in a Los Angeles County safety net clinic

BMC Rheumatol. 2023 Jun 1;7(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s41927-023-00338-7.


Background: The novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has represented an evolving global threat with high morbidity and mortality. Patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases and on immune-suppressing medications may be at increased risk to more severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Vaccines are essential to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and curb the spread of infection. Rheumatology patients may be more fearful to receive the vaccine compared to the general population. The Los Angeles County rheumatology patients are primarily Hispanic and represent a unique and possibly particularly vulnerable cohort warranting further exploration into barriers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We aimed to explore the willingness of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among patients with rheumatic disease.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey to assess the perceptions and barriers to COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in our Los Angeles County rheumatology clinics between July 2021 to September 2021 and received responses from 116 patients.

Results: The majority of respondents were female (83.9%), 41-60 years of age (59.8%), Hispanic (89.2%), with high school or lower level of education (68.7%), and had Rheumatoid Arthritis (56.9%). We found most (88.4%) patients received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. We identified no differences in vaccine acceptance related to age, education, race, and ethnicity. Most respondents agreed that their health condition puts them at high risk of COVID-19 complications. In addition, individuals reported that they valued being engaged by their rheumatologists in discussions of the risk and benefits of the vaccine prior to receiving it.

Conclusion: We found that the majority of patients were already vaccinated or willing to be vaccinated, at higher levels than general United States population and that a conversation initiated by a rheumatologist can have positive effect on patients' health behaviors related to COVID-19.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Rheumatologic disease; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); Vaccine acceptance; Vaccine hesitancy.