Caregivers of Childhood Cancer Survivors Concerned About COVID-19 Vaccines

Many caregivers of children with a history of cancer expressed COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy early in the vaccine rollout, according to a study published online Nov. 17 in Pediatric Blood & Cancer.

Courtney E. Wimberly, from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues surveyed 130 caregivers of childhood cancer survivors between Feb. 25 and April 13, 2021, to assess willingness or hesitancy to vaccinate themselves and childhood cancer survivors.

The researchers found that 21 percent of caregivers expressed hesitancy to vaccinate themselves and 29 percent expressed hesitancy to vaccinate their childhood cancer survivors. Among respondents expressing confidence in the federal government’s response to COVID-19, there was a sixfold greater willingness to self-vaccinate and threefold greater willingness to vaccinate their cancer survivor. There were three general themes in an analysis of qualitative responses, including (1) confidence in science, medicine, and vaccination as a strategy for health promotion; (2) confidence in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 vaccination and belief that childhood cancer survivors are at greater risk for COVID-19 complications; and (3) concerns about the swiftness of COVID-19 vaccine development and insufficient safety/efficacy data in children and childhood cancer survivors.

“Results underscore the need for COVID-19 vaccination education and outreach, even among families highly engaged with the medical community, and emphasize the importance of updating these families as relevant data emerge from vaccine trials and registries,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text