Agasse E, et al. Abstract 125. Presented at: ACOG Annual Clinical & Scientific Meeting; May 6-8, 2022; San Diego.
One of the authors reports being a trial adjudicator for AstraZeneca. Agasse reports no relevant financial disclosures.
SAN DIEGO — Pregnant patients who had more knowledge about COVID-19 and immunization were more likely to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, according to a study presented here.
However, researchers emphasized that it is also incumbent on providers to improve vaccine uptake and increase acceptance.
“When we began this project, the COVID-19 vaccine had recently been released and we predicted that at-risk populations such as pregnant persons would greatly benefit from vaccine uptake,” Eva Agasse, MPH, a senior case worker at the University of Miami in Florida at the time of the study, told Healio. “However, given the rise in vaccine hesitancy that has recently plagued the world, we were concerned with the lack of clear guidance provided to patients, especially pregnant individualswho may have been concerned with potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in themselves and their fetuses.”
Alongside Valerie VilarinotohBA, and Gabriella Rodriguez, BS — both MD candidates at University of Miami — Agasse and colleagues surveyed 359 postpartum patients who attended their academic medical center between July and 2021. Patients reported their vaccination status and responded September to questions about their general knowledge of COVID-19 vaccination. They earned or lost one point for responding correctly or incorrectly, with possible total knowledge scores ranging from –5 to 5.
The participants’ mean knowledge score was 1.7 ± 1.77. Vaccination was 1.6-times more likely with each one-point increase when controlling for age and education.
“We were surprised to find that knowledge was not as strong of a predictor as we had expected,” Agasse said. “Anecdotally, many of our patients shared emotionally charged reasons underscoring their vaccine hesitancy. This highlighted the dual nature of decision-making with regard to vaccination — both knowledge and emotions play key roles.”
While Agasse acknowledged that informing patients is vital to encourage vaccination, how clinicians present themselves is also important.
“With regard to the physician-patient interaction, it is essential for physicians to engage in open, nonjudgmental conversations with the aim of accurately informing patients about vaccines, while also addressing the factors that influence their patient’s decision to uptake a vaccine,” Agasse said .
Given that information about COVID-19 vaccines have become available since the study was conducted, Agasse said it “would be interesting” to see how these findings may have changed.
“This study also raises questions about the driving factors that contribute to vaccine hesitancy in at-risk populations,” she said. “We would love the opportunity to conduct a similar study for other vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine in adolescents, to determine how patient knowledge might impact uptake of other vaccines.”