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Sars-Cov-2 Vaccination hesitancy and attitude toward booster doses among breast cancer patients in Tunisia

Melliti R., Tbessi S., Chamsi A., Ouaz H., Belajouza S., Bouzid N., Tebra S.

Radiation oncology department, Farhat Hached Hospital, University of Sousse, Tunisia

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Introduction: Cancer patients are at a high risk of infection by COVID-19 virus. Then, SARS COV-2 vaccination is highly recommended.

Aim: We aim to evaluate breast cancer patients’ willingness to take COVID-19 vaccination and to identify predictive factors influencing their decision in order to promote vaccine uptake rates.

Method: A unicentric, cross-sectional anonymous survey conducted on voluntary cancer patients with breast cancer regardless of the tumor stage or current oncological treatment, attending the ambulatory care unit of the radiation oncology department of Farhat Hached Hospital of Sousse from September 2021 to December 2021.

Results: A total of 202 were included. Median age was 53,2 years [28-74]. 89.4% of patients were not vaccinated against the seasonal flu within the last 5 years. Patients were under oncological treatment in 81.8% of cases (n=108) including 18.5% under chemotherapy. Complete remission was found in 116 patients (87.9%). Patients had attracted COVID-19 infection in 31.8% of cases and were vaccinated in 57.6% of cases. Fifty patients refused taking the vaccine (37.8%) and 68 patients refused to take the vaccine’s booster dose (51.5%). Reasons for rejecting COVID19 vaccination were fear of vaccine’s side effects (p<0.001), fear of inefficacity of the vaccine for cancer patients (p=0.001) and lack of confidence on the governmental authorities (p=0.001). Waiting for the majority to get the vaccine (p<0.001) as well as the end of the oncological treatment (p=0.02) were associated to the hesitancy of receiving the booster dose.

Conclusion: Breast cancer patients adherence to vaccination is acceptable when hesitancy to take the booster dose is not negligeable. Health care providers as well as the government should play a role to highlight the importance for COVID-19 vaccination.