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Vaccination Status and Hesitancy Among Post-Stroke Patients: A Multi-Center Study

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Recent findings highlight a critical concern regarding the vaccination status of post-stroke patients, a group highly vulnerable to severe outcomes from SARS-CoV-2. Although many have completed the full vaccination regimen, a significant number remain unvaccinated, primarily due to concerns about side effects and functional impairments. Understanding these factors is crucial in improving vaccination rates and ensuring this at-risk population is adequately protected against COVID-19.

Study Overview and Methods

This comprehensive observational study was conducted across six hospitals in China from October 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. Researchers focused on hospitalized post-stroke patients to assess their vaccination status, identify reasons for vaccine hesitancy, and document any adverse effects following vaccination. Logistic regression analysis was employed to pinpoint the risk factors associated with vaccine hesitancy, providing valuable insights into the behaviors and concerns of this specific patient group.

Key Findings and Risk Factors

Out of 710 post-stroke patients studied, 430 (60.6%) had received the full recommended three-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, while 176 (24.8%) had not been vaccinated at all. The predominant reasons for vaccine hesitancy included fear of potential side effects (41.5%) and limited mobility (33.9%). Advanced age and various functional impairments were found to be significant independent risk factors for hesitancy. Notably, logistic regression revealed that older age, lower Barthel Index scores, higher Modified Rankin Scale scores, and poorer activity levels on the EuroQol 5-Dimension scale significantly contributed to the reluctance to get vaccinated.

Inferences and Recommendations

Based on the study findings, several actionable recommendations can be made:

  • Addressing concerns about vaccine side effects through targeted education and reassurance could significantly reduce hesitancy.
  • Special vaccination programs that cater to the mobility needs of post-stroke patients might improve vaccination rates.
  • Healthcare providers should give particular attention to elderly post-stroke patients and those with severe functional impairments when discussing vaccination.

Approximately 14.8% of vaccinated patients reported minor adverse reactions, predominantly pain at the injection site. Importantly, no severe adverse effects were observed, suggesting the safety of the vaccine for this population.

In conclusion, while the study shows a substantial portion of post-stroke patients are vaccinated, vaccine hesitancy remains a significant issue fueled by concerns over side effects and functional limitations. Efforts to enhance vaccine uptake must consider these factors to effectively protect this vulnerable group from severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Original Article: BMC Public Health. 2024 May 26;24(1):1401. doi: 10.1186/s12889-024-18922-y.

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