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As COVID-19 vaccination guidelines were issued by Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) across the US, each state and clinical provider instituted vaccine implementation and education policies and protocols for high-risk populations. However, current research has shown that while people with autoimmune diseases were listed by ACIP and CDC as a COVID-19 high-risk population, the rate of adherence to implementation and education protocols, as well as the prioritization of this sub-population as a high-risk group, varied among the clinicians and vaccinators thus impacting the hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine and a correlation to low vaccination rates. The purpose of this review was to explore factors of COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in people living with autoimmune diseases in relation to current implementation and education policies and protocols, as well as ethical and contextual factors, while providing possible implications. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in people living with autoimmune disease was greater than in the general population, as demonstrated by increased levels of overall mistrust and fear of potential risk and harmful side effects. Evidence has shown that COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective for patients with autoimmune diseases. Additionally, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh its potential risks and adverse effects in this population. However, the non-adherence to policy and protocols, especially community education protocols, by those providing the vaccination have a negative impact on the overall perception of the vaccine and needs to be addressed at local and state levels in order to protect this population. Future research should provide strategies to guide collaborative efforts between government and local agencies in providing tailored vaccination campaigns to this population. In parallel with policy, COVID-19 vaccination intervention implementation and educational protocols should be developed with evidence-based guidelines for public health and clinical professionals that are targeted at this vulnerable high-risk population.


Georgia Southern University faculty members, Kristie C. Waterfield and William A. Mase co-authored COVID-19 Vaccination Hesitancy in Autoimmune Disease Patients: Policy Action and Ethical Considerations.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.