World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned COVID-19 vaccination as the safest way to eradicate this pandemic. In the meantime, vaccine hesitancy (a delay in accepting or rejecting the vaccine despite the availability of vaccination services) is a barrier. Hence, we studied this obstacle in the Iranian multiple sclerosis (MS) population.
MS patients eligible for vaccination were asked to complete a google form survey. Demographic information, MS disease-related factors, flu vaccination history, COVID-19 vaccination history, cause of vaccination refusal, past history of COVID-19 infection, and their compliance with public health guidelines after vaccination were recorded.
1479 patients participated in this study. 6.9% of participants have not received the vaccination. Sinopharm was the most commonly used vaccine (92.9%). Vaccine hesitancy was associated with young age, lower education, unemployment, negative flu vaccination history, no previous episode of COVID-19 infection, less concern about COVID-19, and the expectation of not getting infected with the virus after vaccination. Participants mentioned concerns about the side effects of the vaccines as the most prevalent cause of avoiding vaccination (58.0%). Patients’ concern of SARS-CoV-2 significantly decreased after vaccination (p-value < 0.001).
Our findings in this study elucidate that a minor group of patients with MS has vaccine hesitancy, which may expose them to more severe COVID 19. The treating physicians should ask the history of vaccination and try to persuade such patients with scientific knowledge transformation. The long-term consequences of not being vaccinated should be clarified to such patients especially those who are receiving immunosuppressive agents.

Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier B.V.